Of all the outcomes of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, perhaps one of the most concerning is the individual’s tendency for wandering, together with the potential dangers which may arise in the event the senior becomes disoriented or lost. Wandering may occur when the older adult is:
- Frightened, confused or overwhelmed
- Trying to find someone or something
- Wanting to keep a familiar past routine (as an example, going to a job or shopping)
- Tending to a simple necessity (such as trying to find a glass of water or going to the bathroom)
As a dementia caregiver, the goal is twofold: to keep the senior safe, and to ensure that his or her needs are fulfilled in an attempt to stop the desire to wander to begin with. Try the following dementia wandering solutions if a senior loved one in your care has a tendency to wander:
- Utilize any locks which can be in place that the senior is not able to master, such as a sliding bolt lock above his or her field of vision, as well as alarms, or something as simple as placing a bell over doorknobs. It is also a smart idea to register your loved one with the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return Program.
- Disguise exits by covering doors with curtains, positioning temporary folding barriers strategically around doorways, or even by making use of wallpaper or paint to complement the nearby walls. You may try placing “NO EXIT” signs on doors, which can sometimes dissuade people in the last stages of dementia from attempting to exit.
- An additional hazard for individuals who wander is the elevated threat of falling. Check each room of the home and take care of any tripping concerns, such as removing throw rugs, electrical cords, and any obstructions that might be blocking walkways, ensuring sufficient lighting is switched on, and utilizing gates at the top and bottom of stairways.
It is important to keep in mind that by using guidance and direction, wandering is not necessarily an issue. Try taking a walk outside with the senior anytime weather allows and the person is in the mood to be on the go. Walking outside provides the additional advantage of fresh air, a physical work out, and quality time together.
For more dementia wandering prevention tips, and to learn how New Horizons In-Home Care can help by providing specially designed activities to help keep your loved one active and engaged, schedule a free in-home consultation today. Our expert caregivers can provide a variety of home care services – from respite care and companionship to light housekeeping and help with personal care needs, and so much more. Reach out to us any time in Eugene: 541-687-8851, Corvallis: 541-752-9059, Salem: 503-400-3000, or Florence: 541-997-8115 to learn more about our top-rated memory care in Eugene, OR and the surrounding communities. Let us help a senior you love live with independence and dignity in the comfort of home!