Is Your Loved One at Risk For Wandering?
If you have a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease or another related dementia, then they may be at risk for wandering and getting lost. This risk usually increases as the disease progresses. Wandering is dangerous because it can put individuals with a neurocognitive disorder in dangerous, frightening, and unfamiliar situations. This situation can become especially dangerous if those people who have Alzheimer’s may continue to drive, although their capabilities have likely declined significantly.
In many cases, whenever a loved one gets lost or wanders, the situation usually alerts his or her family of their disease and leads to seeking further help.
In order to avoid such a scary event, i.e. when your loved one wanders off somewhere, you should look out for some signs.
Common Signs to Look Out For
Your loved one may. . .
- Appear lost when they are in a new environment
- Behave as if performing a task but nothing gets accomplished. For example, folding clothes that have not been washed or moving dishes that are dirty.
- Forget temporarily where rooms are in their house
- Seem restless or repeats movements
- Try to fulfill obligations that no longer exist, e.g. like going to work even though he or she has not worked in years
- Return from a trip (like an errand or a walk) later than usual
- Inquire about old friends or family members (sometimes those who have been deceased).
Try to Prevent Wandering
Sometimes, wandering may be unavoidable. But, as a family caregiver, you should try to significantly reduce the chances by establishing a routine for your loved one. This routine can involve daily activities, meals, and a sleeping schedule. The goal is to provide the day with structure for your loved one, which can contribute to decreased aggression and improved mood in both you and your loved one.
When organizing these activities, keep the preferences, capabilities, and interests of your loved one in mind. Also, make sure you are able to revise certain activities to suit your loved one.
As a family caregiver who may know the habits and behaviors of your loved one, try to structure their day in a way that reflects their life previous to having a neurocognitive disorder. Familiarity may be the best thing to help your loved one feel comfortable and safe.
Some More Tips
Many times, wandering is a result of the unmet emotional or physical needs of your loved one. For example, if they are hungry or have to use the bathroom, they may try to fulfill these needs but get confused or lost along the way, which can lead to wandering. Make an attempt to be aware of your loved one’s needs so they can be met.
Some additional preventative measures can include:
- Installing an alarm system to alert you when somebody leaves the house
- Place a bell on the threshold of the door so you know when it is open
- Camouflage exits to make them less visible
- Store care keys in a place where you will remember them but in an inaccessible place for your loved one
Although these preventative measures are not foolproof, and your loved one may still find a way to get lost, these tips can help you reduce instances of wandering.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website today.