Recent statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association state that 6 in 10 people with Alzheimer’s or dementia will wander.
Often times, the person who wanders cannot remember their address or important personal information, like a phone number or an emergency contact. This puts them at risk of getting seriously lost, injured or being taken advantage of by strangers.
If you have a loved one who tends to wander, it’s important to have a list of procedures in place to prevent them from endangering themselves.
Here are some important tips for understanding and preventing wandering in your loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s: The Causes of Wandering
The primary causes of wandering with Alzheimer’s or dementia patients is disorientation or fear.
People with dementia or Alzheimer’s often forget where they are, how old they are, and the time of day. They often revert back to old schedules, experiences or situations. For instance, an Alzheimer’s patient who once went to work every day at 8 AM may continue to try and do so, even years after the job has ended.
They may set off to look for something or someone who isn't around or has died; boredom may convince them to leave, and once they’re out in the world, they will forget how to get home or how to contact someone to retrieve them.
A patient with Alzheimer’s who was active and curious before they became ill will likely remain that way, wanting to go off and explore on their own.
Unfortunately, the nature of the disease increases the likelihood that once they leave their home or familiar surroundings, they won’t be able to find their way back.
Safe-Proof Their Home
If you know your parent or loved one has a tendency to wander, it’s important that you safe-proof their home.
- Place dead locks in high and unobvious places.
- Create signs with pictures to point them in the direction of the bathroom or kitchen.
- Have permanent lights on in hallways, tight spaces, and corners of the home to provide constant illumination.
- If it’s necessary, place permanent blockades on doors at nighttime.
- It may be necessary to lock or obscure doors that lead to staircases, basements, attics or other places where a patient may become trapped or disoriented.
- Remove sharp objects and hazardous materials, including weapons.
- Streamline spaces, removing any visible cords, sharp corners, or clutter
- Store medications in a locked and secure drawer or cabinet
Provide and Distribute Copies of Identification and Emergency Contact Information
If your loved one has an episode of wandering, it’s important that they have the necessary information to reach a caregiver.
Provide them with copies of their identification so that they’ll always have a way to identify themselves if they get lost. An emergency contact card can also help good Samaritans assist your loved one with contacting and procuring safe transportation back home.
Fill in the Caregiving Gaps
If your parent is prone to wandering throughout the day and night, it’s important that you choose caregiving services that can help keep them safe when you aren’t there.
The stress and anxiety of watching over a loved one with dementia can begin to take its toll. The round-the-clock demands of the disease are often too much for a single person to bear. That’s why a professional caregiver can be an outstanding addition to both yours and your loved one’s lives.
Bluebird Homecare has nearly 30 years of experience providing support and expert care to Alzheimer’s patients.
Our caregivers are trained and educated in the intricacies of Alzheimer’s. We can provide a detailed plan for your loved one’s schedule, and will provide constant updates and notetaking for your peace of mind.
A loved one with Alzheimer’s can continue to live a happy and independent life with the right precautions and caregiving measures in place.
If you’re struggling to care for a parent or loved one with Alzheimer’s, reach out to Bluebird for a free consultation and let us make yours and your loved one's lives easier.