Preventing Dementia Patients from Wandering

affordable home care assisted home care at home caregivers care for older people companion home care disability home care elder care in Minnesota home care services for seniors home help for the elderly in home care Minneapolis St. PaulThe Alzheimer’s Association reports that as many as 60 percent of people with dementia, a condition with decreased memory or mental ability, will wander and may get lost.  Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, head injuries, and other health issues that involve dementia can all lead patients to stroll away from familiar surroundings.  As the at-home caregivers of Right at Home know, wandering is preventable with the right safeguards in place.

If you are taking care of elderly parents with dementia, specific wandering risk signs to watch for include:

  • Restlessness, pacing, or repetitive movement.
  • Difficulty with locating familiar places like a bedroom or bathroom.
  • A desire to “go home” even when already at home.
  • Attempting to go to work or to fulfill former obligations.
  • Inquiring about the whereabouts of past or current family and friends.

 

Safeguards to prevent wandering include:

  • Addressing the underlying cause of wandering. Is your aging loved one waking up hungry or thirsty?  Are certain sounds triggering a need to investigate outdoors?
  • Assessing the time(s) of day when a person is most prone to wander. Plan extra activities or exercise during these periods to decrease the restlessness and anxiety of wanting to leave.
  • Securing your home with hard-to-access door and window locks (place locks high or low on exterior doors or add slide bolts).  Or, place motion detectors on outer doors or hang bells on doorknobs.
  • Involving neighbors. Introduce your aging loved one to neighbors and give them a phone number to call in case they see your loved one aimlessly out and about.  Also, be sure your loved one always wears an ID bracelet or pendant, or sew identification tags inside clothing.

Paul R. Blom, Owner

October 3, 2013

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