Of the numerous effects of Alzheimer’s disease, probably one of the most concerning is the person’s propensity for wandering, together with potential dangers that can arise if the senior becomes confused or lost. Wandering can happen any time the older adult is:
- Frightened, confused or overwhelmed
- Searching for someone or something
- Wanting to keep a familiar former routine (such as going to a job or shopping)
- Tending to a simple necessity (such as getting a drink of water or going to the bathroom)
The goal is twofold; to help keep your loved one safe and secure, and also to make sure his / her needs are met to attempt to prevent the want to wander to begin with. Try the following basic safety measures if your parent is facing the combination of wandering and Alzheimer’s:
- Ensure the house is equipped with a security system and locks that your senior loved one cannot master, such as a sliding bolt lock above his or her range of vision. A number of alarms are available, from something as simple as placing a bell over door knobs, to highly-sensitive pressure mats that will sound an alarm when stepped upon, to GPS devices that can be worn, and more. It’s also best to register for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return Program.
- Disguise exits by covering doors with curtains, placing non-permanent folding barriers strategically around doorways, or by wallpapering or painting doors to match the surrounding walls. You may also try placing “NO EXIT” signs on doors, which can sometimes deter those in the earlier stages of dementia from trying to exit.
- An additional danger for those facing difficulties with wandering and Alzheimer’s is the increased risk of falling. Go through each room of the home and tackle any tripping concerns, such as eliminating throw rugs, extension cords, and any obstructions which may be blocking walkways, adding extra lighting, and placing gates at the top and bottom of stairways.
It’s important to keep in mind that with guidance and direction, wandering is not necessarily a problem. Go for a walk outside together anytime weather permits and everyone is in the mood to be mobile, providing the additional advantage of fresh air, physical exercise, and quality time together.
Although often tricky to manage, the leaders in dementia care North Hollywood, CA families trust at JFS Care are specially trained to be equally vigilant and proactive in deterring wandering and to incorporate creative tactics to help older adults with dementia stay relaxed and content. Give us a call at (213) 383-2273 to find out more and to see if our services are available in your area.