Alzheimer’s and dementia are a devastating and scary disease that affect the person afflicted with it as well as the entire family. It is bad enough to watch a senior loved one start to forget important aspects of their life, but it can become really traumatic if they start to wander.
Wandering seniors have been known to get lost driving or riding the bus, go out in the middle of winter without proper clothing, and even put themselves at risk for injury or death.
In their mind, they may have a good reason for wandering. They may be searching for someone or something such as a spouse who has passed away. They may be trying to go to a job that they have long since retired from. Or they may be trying to meet a basic need which they are unable to verbalize to you. If you have a loved one that has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you should assume that they will wander at some point.
How to prevent wandering
The good news is that there are some relatively simple ways that you can help your senior loved one and prevent them from wandering.
- Do not leave them unattended. If you cannot be nearby, ask a friend or family member to help. There are also some very good respite day programs where your loved one can socialize with others while you have a break. Finally, consider having an in-home caregiver come and stay with your loved one for a few hours each week.
- Put locks on the doors. Prevent your loved one from leaving the house without your knowledge by placing the locks on the doors which are high up so that they will not reach for them.
- Use a GPS. You may be able to get a wearable GPS for your loved one so that you can locate them if they wander.
- Medic Alert – Through Medic Alert, you can enroll your loved one into the Safely Home Program. If someone finds your loved one wandering, they can call the number on their Medic Alert bracelet and, Medic Alert will coordinate with local responders to return your loved one safely. If your loved one is not part of the program, you can make sure that they have identification on them at all times.
- Bed and door alarms. Consider using an alarm to alert you if your loved one is getting up at night or trying to leave the house.
As a family caregiver, it is of the utmost importance to ensure your loved one’s safety. Taking measures to help prevent wandering is an important part of that.
For more information on getting an in-home caregiver for your loved one, contact VERA Home Care today.