The Dangers of Dementia Wandering and How to Help

Of the numerous impacts of Alzheimer’s disease, one of the most concerning is the individual’s propensity for wandering. The dangers of dementia wandering cannot be overstated; in the blink of an eye, the person can become disoriented or lost and unable to find their way home. Wandering can occur when the older adult is:

  • Scared, confused, or overwhelmed
  • Searching for someone or something
  • Bored
  • Trying to keep a familiar former routine (for example, going shopping or to work)
  • Taking care of a basic necessity (such as searching for a drink of water or going to the bathroom)

The goal is twofold; to help keep the senior safe, and also to be certain his or her needs are met to try and stop the want to wander in the first place. Consider the following basic safety measures if a senior you love is prone to wander:

  • Make sure the residence is equipped with a security system and locks that the person is not able to master, such as a sliding bolt lock out of his/her range of vision. Many different alarms are available, from something as simple as placing a bell over doorknobs, to highly sensitive pressure mats that will sound an alarm when stepped upon, to GPS products that can be worn, and many more. It is also recommended that you sign up for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return Program.
  • Camouflage exits by covering up doors with curtains, placing temporary folding barriers strategically around doorways, or by wallpapering or painting doors to match the surrounding walls. You could try placing “NO EXIT” signs on doors, which can sometimes deter those who are in the earlier stages of dementia from trying to exit.
  • An additional risk for people who wander is the additional risk of falling. Go through each room of the home and address any tripping concerns, such as eliminating throw rugs, electrical cords, and any obstructions which may be blocking walkways, installing extra lighting, and placing gates at the top and bottom of stairways.

It’s important to remember that with supervision and direction, wandering can be incorporated into the person’s daily routine safely. Take a walk with each other outside when weather allows and the senior is in the mood to be mobile, providing the extra advantage of fresh air, physical exercise, and quality time together.

Although often challenging to manage, the dementia care team at Carolina Hearts Home Care, the top provider of home care in Laurel Hill and the surrounding areas, is specially trained to be both vigilant and proactive in deterring wandering. We are skilled in incorporating creative approaches to help seniors with dementia stay calm and content. Contact us at 1-855-277-2005 to find out more about our customized in-home care services.