How to Care for Seniors with Dementia Who Wander March 30, 2016

 How to prevent dementia patients from wandering

Did you know that 6-in-10 people with dementia wander?  More than 5-million Americans are living with the most common form of dementia Alzheimer’s Disease. Those living with Alzheimer’s may not remember their name or address, and can become extremely disoriented, even in familiar places. Wandering in dementia patients is dangerous, but there are strategies that loved ones and caregivers can take to help prevent it.

Who’s at risk of wandering?

Wandering is most common among patients with dementia and can happen at any stage of the disease, although anyone who battles memory problems and who is able to walk is at risk for wandering. It’s important that loved ones plan ahead for situations, especially when you notice your loved one becoming becomes disoriented or confused for long periods of time.

You should look for the following warning signs:

·        Tries to complete former obligations, such as going to work

·        Restless, paces or makes repetitive movements

·        Appears confused and lost in a new or changed environment

·        Difficulty locating familiar places, such as bathroom, bedroom or kitchen

·        Returns later than usual from a regular walk or drive

Even the most dedicated caregiver can prevent a patient from wandering, but they can use a few strategies to help lower the chances:

·        Secure your home. Installing new locks on your doors and windows that can’t be easily opened by your loved one can prevent them from getting out and wandering. Place the locks either higher or lower to be out of sight.  A simpler solution to prevent wandering is to hang bells on the doorknobs, alerting you when they are attempting to leave.

·        Identify the most likely times of the day that your loved one may wander.  Plan an activity to do around this time. Activities and exercising can reduce anxiety and restlessness.

·        Ensure all basic needs are met.  Are they thirsty or hungry? Have they been to the bathroom?

·        Make sure the person always carries ID. This won’t prevent wandering, but it’s important that your loved one can be identified if something happens. Carrying ID in a person’s wallet isn’t enough because they can easily remove that and loses it. Consider a medical ID bracelet, necklace or pendant.  

·        Keep car keys out of sight. A person with dementia could possibly drive off and put themselves and others at risk.

·        Camouflage doors and door knobs. Painting doors and door knobs the same color as the walls can make it harder to distinguish a way out of the room for those with dementia.

The stress that caregivers and loved ones experience over a dementia patient who wanders and becomes lost is significant.  This stress can be decreased by having a plan in place beforehand, so you know what to do in case of an emergency.

·        Keep a list of people you can call on for help.

·        Ask neighbors, friends and family to call if they see the person out alone.

·        Keep a list of usual places the person may wander.

·        Always keep a recent, up-close photo.

·        Call 911 after searching the immediate area for 15 minutes.

If you have a loved one with dementia that is showing signs of wandering and you need help keeping them safe, the amazing staff at Brookfield Assisted Living facilities would love to help. We have three locations that offer a comfortable, home-like environment for your loved one. Call today to schedule a tour.

Our Locations:

Bella Vista (479)855-5600

Fort Smith (479)649-7100

Hot Springs (501)520-0016