Dementia Care- Preventing Patients from Wandering

The 5 Wandering Risk Signs You Need to Know About

The Alzheimer’s Association reports that as many as 60 percent of people with dementia, a condition with decreased memory or mental ability, will wander and may get lost. Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, head injuries and other health issues that involve dementia can all lead patients to stroll away from familiar surroundings. Being trained in dementia care, the home healthcare caregivers of  Right at Home Greater Portland know, wandering is preventable with the right safeguards in place.
Specific wandering risk signs to watch for include:

  • Restlessness, pacing or repetitive movement.
  • Difficulty with locating familiar places like a bedroom or bathroom.
  • A desire to “go home” even when already at home.
  • Attempting to go to work or to fulfill former obligations.
  • Inquiring about the whereabouts of past or current family and friends.

Safeguards to prevent wandering include:

  • Addressing the underlying cause of wandering. Is your aging loved one waking up hungry or thirsty? Are certain sounds triggering a need to investigate outdoors?
  • Assessing the time(s) of day when a person is most prone to wander. Plan extra activities or exercise during these periods to decrease the restlessness and anxiety of wanting to leave.
  • Securing your home with hard-to-access door and window locks (place locks high or low on exterior doors or add slide bolts). Or, place motion detectors on outer doors or hang bells on doorknobs.
  • Using monitoring devices such as jewelry or bracelets with radio transmitters. Local law enforcement and organizations like Project Lifesaver and the MedicAlert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return® program can offer additional assistance.
  • Involving neighbors. Introduce your aging loved one to neighbors and give them a phone number to call in case they see your loved one aimlessly out and about. Also, when it comes to dementia care, be sure your loved one always wears an ID bracelet or pendant, or sew identification tags inside clothing.

How do you keep an aging loved one with dementia from wandering?

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Right at Home offers in-home care to seniors and adults with disabilities who want to live independently. Most Right at Home offices are independently owned and operated, and directly employ and supervise all caregiving staff.
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