Out of all of the behaviors that can arise with Alzheimer’s, one of the most worrisome is the person’s tendency to wander, along with the potential dangers that may occur if the senior becomes disoriented or lost while wandering. Senior wandering can take place when the senior is:
- Searching for someone or something
- Scared, confused or overwhelmed
- Attempting to keep a familiar former routine (for example, going to work or shopping)
- Taking care of a fundamental need (such as looking for a drink of water or going to the bathroom)
The aim is twofold; to help keep the senior safe, and also to ensure his or her needs are satisfied to try and prevent the need to wander from the outset. Consider the following basic safety precautions for a loved one who is likely to experience senior wandering:
- Disguise exits by covering up doors with curtains, setting short-term folding barriers strategically around doorways, or by wallpapering or painting doors to match the surrounding walls. You can even try placing “NO EXIT” signs on doors, which can sometimes deter those in the earlier stages of dementia from trying to exit.
- Ensure the house is equipped with a security system and locks that the person cannot master, such as a sliding bolt lock out of his/her range of vision. Many different alarms are available, from something as basic as placing a bell over doorknobs, to highly sensitive pressure mats designed to sound an alarm when stepped on, to GPS products which can be worn, and more. It’s also recommended that you register for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return Program.
- An additional hazard for those who wander is the risk of falling. Examine each room of the house and tackle any tripping concerns, such as getting rid of throw rugs, electrical cords, and any hindrances that could be obstructing walkways, adding extra lighting, and placing gates at the top and bottom of stairways.
Remember that with direction and supervision, senior wandering is not necessarily a problem. Go for a walk together outside if weather will allow and the senior is interested, providing the extra benefit of fresh air, exercise, and quality time together.
While senior wandering isn’t an easy condition to manage, the dementia care team at Happier Home Care is specially trained to be vigilant and proactive in deterring senior wandering and to utilize creative approaches to help seniors with dementia remain calm and content. Reach out to us at 818-651-6679 to learn more about our elder care in Pasadena and the nearby areas!