Wandering among persons with Dementia or Alzheimer’s is dangerous but there are some strategies to help prevent it. Today, we are living through uncertain times but the person who is diagnosed with either disease is currently facing additional risk. Besides the major symptoms they are burdened with, the problem with wandering carries with it many risks as 60% of dementia patients may wander or get lost. This is also a risk factor for people with conditions such as head injuries, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, autism and Down syndrome, who also stray away from their familiar surroundings.
An individual who struggles with memory issues and can physically walk is at high risk of wandering. With dementia, wandering can happen at any stage and a loved one who wanders is one of the most urgent concerns of caregivers. The fact is that wandering is avoidable and preventable with the right training in place. It is with an urgent concern that we recognize warning signs and get a safety plan in place as soon as signs appear.
Some Early Warning Signs
The desire to go home, while being at home, is an obvious signal, along with pacing or restlessness. Being confused while attempting to locate areas like the bedroom or bathroom can be a red flag that lets you understand the amount of confusion they are experiencing. Some get ready to go to work to fulfil earlier obligations. It is a good idea to avoid busy places that might be cause for disorientation.
Be sure to use communication focused on validation instead of correcting the person. Maybe respond “We plan to stay here with you tonight and we will all be safe”, rather than any other conflicting words. Discover if there is an underlying cause for wandering or definite time876 periods of experiencing anxiety.
Ways to Protect & Care
Making a daily plan is a first step towards keeping your loved one busy during times they are prone to wander. You can plan activities to overshadow certain triggers that make them feel insecure or restless. Wander prone individuals tend to try to return to places that are familiar to them, previous homes or workplaces. Determine where they might think they want to wander to and make a list of those places Never leave them in a car alone, always provide supervision, involve your neighbors by giving them a phone number where you can be reached if they see your loved one walking alone in the neighborhood.
Another easy help is to dress your loved ones in bright colors that can be spotted from long distances. Put up signs inside your home like “bathroom” so they can see what door leads where and might not go out a door leading outside by mistake. This advice doesn’t apply to everybody, but some experts believe that getting physical activity during the day can help prevent wandering at night. Even a supervised walk around the block before dinner may be enough to reduce nighttime agitation.
To keep your loved one safe in your home keep locks out of sight and install devices that signal when a door or window is opened. This can be as simple as a bell that alerts you. Install side latches that are somewhat difficult to open, on the bottom of door if possible. Have a fence installed with a locked entrance gate, so your loved one can enjoy some fresh air. Nowadays we have so many smart home monitoring systems that will secure your home and your loved one.
There are now specialized monitoring devices such as jewelry, bracelets or shoe inserts. Some tracking devices you control, while others require a service that charges a monthly fee. These services can notify you if your loved one wanders, and pinpoint their location. Local law enforcement and organizations like Project Lifesaver can be of additional assistance. A non-technical safeguard is to sew identification tags inside clothing.
But experts say that the first thing you should do is call 911 to alert the authorities. If your loved one is registered with organizations like Project Lifesaver or the Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return program, you can call them also. Once you’ve done that, you can start looking yourself. The main point I want to make is that there are strategies and services to help prevent or reduce the issues for caregivers to protect their loved ones. Remember that wandering can occur even if you are the most diligent of caregivers. So have a plan in place, know that there are services available and you do not have to face this alone. GoldLeaf Care is here to help evaluate, advise and assist.