When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, families typically have an abundance of questions about care, disease management and changes in behavior that can be expected. One of the most concerning behaviors that families may face is the tendency to wander. While not uncommon, Alzheimer’s wandering often occurs in the early to middle stages of the disease and can be challenging for family caregivers and place the individual with dementia in unsafe situations. While anyone with dementia is at risk to wander, often the behavior is brought about by:
- Basic needs. Your loved one is hungry, thirsty or needs to use the bathroom.
- Following past routines. He or she may be trying to go to work, to school or to the store.
- Searching. Your loved one may be searching for something or someone.
- Stress or fear. Wandering is often brought about as a reaction to stress, fear or nervousness.
To help prevent wandering, the Florida in-home care experts at American, Advocate, Douglas and Whitsyms In-Home Care recommend implementing a daily, structured routine, including regular meals, exercise, plenty of hydration and bathroom breaks. It’s also a helpful idea to keep a diary and note the time of day or any potential triggers that seem to proceed wandering. If a loved one feels disoriented or abandoned, provide calm reassurance that he or she is safe.
Other ways to ensure the safety of a loved one who may wander include:
- Camouflage doors. Paint or wallpaper doors to match the surrounding walls, hang curtains, or conceal exits with folding barriers. Hang a “NO EXIT” or “DO NOT ENTER” sign on doors.
- Install a security system or alarms on doors. A whole-house security system can be set up to chime when doors or windows are opened. Childproof covers on doorknobs and bells hung on doors can also help alert family caregivers to wandering.
- Keep car keys out of sight. If the senior with dementia is no longer driving, be sure to keep car keys hidden and in a secure location.
- Provide supervision. Having someone at home with the senior loved one is ideal. The professional care providers we refer are highly trained in Alzheimer’s and dementia care and help provide families with peace of mind through compassionate care and enhanced safety.
Another important step for families to take is to have an emergency plan in place should their loved one wander.
- Have a recent photo of your loved one on hand.
- Keep a list of emergency numbers.
- Alert neighbors and ask them to inform you if they see your loved one out alone.
- Enroll your loved one a wandering response program.
- Make a list of places the senior with dementia might go, including a former house, workplace or place of worship.
- Place labels in the senior’s clothes, have him or her carry identification or wear a GPS device.
We know that Alzheimer’s and dementia impact each individual differently. To help meet the needs of local families, our referred care providers are experienced and trained in Alzheimer’s and dementia care and work to ensure the physical and emotional well-being of individuals in their care and reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s wandering. Whether implementing a structured, daily routine, engaging a loved one in reminiscing activities, helping prepare nutritious meals, assisting with personal care needs or a variety of other tasks, our referred care providers are available for a few hours each week, up to and including 24/7 live-in care.
To discover more about the ways our family of brands can help provide safety for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s, select the location nearest you:
- American In-Home Care – Serving North, Central, and West Coast of Florida
- Advocate In-Home Care – Serving Southeast and Southwest Florida
- Douglas In-Home Care – Serving Treasure Coast
- Whitsyms In-Home Care – Serving Southeast and Southwest Florida
Reach out to us anytime to learn more about the professional Florida home care that families have trusted since 1992.
State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 5661