Of the numerous effects of Alzheimer’s disease, perhaps one of the most alarming is the individual’s propensity for wandering as well as the potential dangers which can arise in the event that the senior becomes confused or lost. Wandering may occur any time the senior is:
- Scared, confused or overwhelmed
- Searching for someone or something
- Seeking to preserve a familiar former routine (such as going to a job or shopping)
- Taking care of a simple need (such as searching for a drink of water or going to the bathroom)
If wandering becomes a risk, caregivers have a twofold purpose; to help keep the senior safe, and to make sure his or her needs are fulfilled to try and stop the desire to wander to start with. Consider the following basic safety precautions in case your loved one is prone to wander:
- Ensure the house is equipped with a security system and locks that the senior cannot master, such as a sliding bolt lock above his or her range of vision. An assortment of alarms can be obtained, from something as basic as placing a bell over door knobs, to highly-sensitive pressure mats that will sound an alarm when stepped on, to GPS products that can be worn, and many more. It’s also recommended that you sign up for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return Program.
- Camouflage exits by covering doors with curtains, setting up non-permanent folding barriers strategically around doorways, or by wallpapering or painting doors to match the surrounding walls. You can even try placing “NO EXIT” signs on doors, which can sometimes dissuade those who are in the earlier stages of dementia from trying to exit.
- Another danger for folks who wander is the elevated risk of falling. Go through each room of the home and fix any tripping concerns, such as getting rid of throw rugs, electrical cords, and any obstacles which might be obstructing walkways, installing extra lighting, and placing gates at the top and bottom of stairways.
It’s important to remember that with guidance and direction, wandering is not necessarily an issue. Take a walk together outside if weather allows and the senior is in the state of mind to be mobile, providing the additional benefit of fresh air, exercise, and quality time together.
While often hard to manage, the dementia care team at Atlanta Home Care Partners is specially trained to be both vigilant and proactive in deterring wandering and to incorporate creative techniques to help older adults with dementia stay relaxed and happy. Call us at (404) 228-0103 to find about our dementia home care services!