Wandering is a common behavior for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. This behavior is acceptable as long as the person is wandering in a safe environment. Wandering can actually help relieve anxiety and restlessness and may serve as some exercise. However, when wandering happens away from home or at night it can be dangerous and needs to be prevented. About 60 percent of the Alzheimer’s disease sufferers in the United States have the tendency to wander and get lost at some point during the course of the disease. If you have a loved one that wanders here are some tips that can help prevent the wanderings:
Reduce Driving Opportunities: If your loved one tends to drive off and get lost it is important that you keep the keys away from him/her or disable the car so that it will not start. People with dementia have been known to wander hundreds of miles in vehicles that could belong to someone else. Take a look at this question: When should seniors stop driving?
Secure the Home: You might want to install doorknobs that prevent your loved one from opening the door. Window and gate locks might be beneficial. You should also consider installing electronic alarms or chimes that ring when the doors are opened.
Provide for Needs: Making sure basic needs such as hunger, thirst, exercise and bathroom use are met can help prevent wandering. Make sure to provide opportunities during the day to take walks outside. Limit naps during the day to help prevent nighttime wandering. Make sure your loved one goes to the bathroom before bedtime to prevent needing to get up at night.
Set up a Safe Environment: Make sure the outside of the home is safe. Ensure that the backyard fence is secure. Keep paths clear and put all yard tools and chemicals away. Make sure there are no dangers such as access to a pool, river, or lake. If your loved one’s environment seems dangerous, consider a move to an Alzheimer’s facility.
See a Doctor: There are some medications that can cause restlessness. Check with your loved one’s doctor to see if any of their medications might cause this. Ask about medications that can help relax someone with dementia.
Your loved one’s safety should be of utmost importance. By putting a few of these things into practice you can help to ensure that your loved one will be less likely to wander dangerously.