Tips to Help Prevent Dementia-Related Wandering
If you have a senior parent or loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, then one of your biggest fears is likely having this individual wander and get lost. Wandering is a very unfortunate side effect of Alzheimer’s and dementia and it is one that can be quite scary for loved ones. While wandering can at times be unpreventable, it is important for caregivers and loved ones to be doing all they can to try and prevent wandering from happening.
- Make sure your loved one has an ID on them at all times. Medical ID jewelry is a smart option for seniors, especially those who may remove or leave their ID behind.
- Put up a fence. It may not seem like a big deal, but a fence around your yard, can go a long way in preventing wandering and in helping keep your loved one on your property.
- Add a security system to your home. A home security system that monitors movement at night can be a great asset to any caregiver looking after someone who wanders. Since wandering typically occurs at night, this can be a smart way to alert anyone in the home that a senior is out of bed and attempting to wander, and prevent them from leaving the home.
- Put up signs. Sometimes, seniors who wander just need a gentles reminder of what they are doing. In addition to locking all of the doors in the home, put a sign facing out that simply says “STOP” or “DO NOT ENTER.” It can actually be enough to halt wandering. You may also want to consider putting signs to places like the kitchen and bathroom, so your loved one knows where they are going. Many times, seniors wander because they are looking for something and get lost, not because they are trying to escape.
- Prepare the neighbors. Make sure that you introduce yourself to the neighbors and let them know that your loved one can be prone to wandering. Give them contact information and make sure they are aware of the situation so they can help.
- Keep your loved one active. By increasing your loved one’s physical activity, you can actually decrease their chances of wandering. It can help reduce nighttime agitation and even help your loved one sleep.
- Focus on their sleep hygiene. The more comfortable your loved one is when they go to bed, the less likely they are to get up in the first place, which means less of a chance of wandering when they are awake. Make sure your loved one is clean and comfortable when they go to bed to prevent them from waking up out of discomfort.
Wandering is often one of the biggest challenges that caregivers must deal with when looking after someone with dementia. These tips can go a long way in lessening your loved one’s chances of wandering off as you do your best to help keep them safe.
- Lori Thomas has decades of experience as a caregiver. Her writing for SeniorAdvice.com is informed by years of research as well as hands-on family experience caring for her now late mother, who had chronic health issues for most of her life. Lori is an integral part of the SeniorAdvice.com management team, acting as Vice President of Marketing and Chief Editor.
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