When elderly adults have cognitive challenges like Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other memory problems, one of the greatest risks to their health and safety is wandering. Getting lost and wandering away from their home is extremely common and it can be dangerous because the senior can quickly become disoriented and confused. These vulnerable adults can get hurt very easily, so family caregivers, friends, and senior care providers need to take precautions to prevent wandering.
Identify What Triggers the Wandering
With careful observation, family caregivers may be able to narrow down the triggers that lead their aging relative to wander. Often, it is connected to one time of day or when the senior is bored or lonely. Sometimes the elderly don’t sleep well and are prone to night wandering. Because dementia often causes seniors to confuse the past and the present, they are gripped by an overwhelming urge to be somewhere or do something and do their best to accomplish that.
For example, many wandering seniors insist they need to “get home,” or that they are “late to work.” They may claim they need to run an important errand or pick up their small children from school. Any number of motivations can trigger wandering as their brain tries to sort out memories with present conditions. Once family caregivers and senior care providers understand the circumstances that inspire the wandering, they can take steps to minimize the occurrences and keep the aging adults safe.
Tips to Prevent Wandering and to Keep Your Senior Safe
When a relative with dementia wanders off and becomes lost, it can cause significant worry and stress for family caregivers. It can even cause harm to the senior if they go without medication, become dehydrated, fall and hurt themselves, wander into traffic or worse. It’s important to take steps to lower the chances of an aging loved one from getting away.
- Never leave an elderly person with dementia alone—always have a family member, friend or senior care provider with them.
- Create a daily schedule with family members and senior care providers, because a routine can reduce their anxiety.
- Put locks on all doors leading outside, but place them very high or very low to minimize a senior’s notice.
- Set up alerts to make noise when an exterior door is opened, such as an electronic sensor or even a bell.
- Invest in tracking technology, usually in the form of a bracelet or pin that monitors where the aging adult is at all time.
- Redirect the aging adult when they are determined they need to go somewhere by reassuring them, validating them and distracting them.
- Meet their basic needs, such as healthy meals, restful sleep, proper medical care, and companionship.
It’s never easy caring for an elderly relative with dementia, but family caregivers and senior care providers can implement many safeguards so that they are discouraged from wandering. Even if the elderly adult doesn’t understand it, they’ll be safer and more comfortable when obstacles are in place to prevent them from leaving the home.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering Home Care in Roswell, GA, please call the caring staff at Always Care Nursing Service today.
Call for Assistance: (404) 266-8773 or (800) 989-7828
Administrator of 3 Florida (Always Care) Home Health Agencies for over Fourteen years.
Always Care of Georgia since 2001
Served as a 1st Lt. In the US Army