If you live in Florida and in most other states – you may have noticed, while driving down the highway, a digital sign above the road that refers to a “Silver Alert”. This is used to notify the public that a person of retirement age has been reported missing. Frequently, they are found safe and sound, and it was the result of a misunderstanding. Unfortunately, however, this is not always the case. They may have wandered away due to confusion, dementia, Alzheimer’s, or some other memory-related illness.
To prevent wandering, what can you do? Here, we are going to offer a little bit of insight as to wandering, what causes it, and how to prevent it. This way, you can help keep your loved one who is diagnosed with dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc., safer and healthier. Lastly, we will recommend a community in which your loved ones can thrive and receive the care they need.
Why Does My Mom/Dad Wander?
If your loved one suffers from dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc., at some point during their disease, there’s a 60% chance they will wander. This behavior, and others related to memory-related illness, can be very challenging. But why is wandering so common among individuals such as these? There are a few reasons why they wander:
- Visual-spatial problems – The part of their brain that is crucial for navigation and visual guidance is affected by dementia.
- They are following routines of the past – They may be trying to go to work or even to school as they did in the past.
- They’re simply seeing to their basic needs – They may be hungry, thirsty, or have to go to the bathroom.
- They’re searching for something or someone – They may be looking for a best friend, a spouse, or even you, but they get lost while doing so.
- Fear or stress – In places like restaurants or other crowded areas, as a reaction to feeling nervous or stressed, your loved one might start to wander.
- Paranoia or hallucinations – If hallucinations seem to be the reason for wandering, this could be related to psychosis and should be reported to your loved one’s physician.
- Loneliness, restlessness, and/or boredom – Try to anticipate the needs of your loved one. Take them on a long walk so they won’t feel the need to take one on their own. Keep your loved one occupied as much as possible if boredom seems to be an issue. The more time you can spend with them, the less chance they have of wandering or being lonely.
Precautions to Take
To prevent wandering, there are precautions you can take to keep your loved ones safe and free from harm:
- Keep keys locked away and/or well out of sight. Remember, you aren’t doing this to be cruel. You are doing this as a safety precaution. It’s not that they’re a prisoner in their own home, this is just something that has to be done to prevent wandering and keep them out of danger.
- See to it that entrances/exits/doors/gates are camouflaged if possible. If you can’t camouflage exits and entrances, a big “STOP” sign might do the trick. Try to explain exactly what that sign means if they don’t remember.
- Install locks and alarms on entrances/exits and doors to rooms that may contain hazards. This will be particularly helpful if you are sleeping and your loved one starts to wander or if, for just a brief moment in time, you took your eyes off of them.
- Make sure the person in question is always supervised. It may seem virtually impossible, but as much as possible, you need to keep an eye on your loved one at all times. It only takes a moment for them to get out the door and down the block.
Providing A Safe, Wander Free Zone – Rittenhouse Village At Lehigh Valley
For individuals with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other memory-related issues, we, at Rittenhouse Village At Lehigh Valley, understand the importance of 24/7 care and observation. With SHINE Memory Care, we use proven data to scientifically devise methods that facilitate engagement and comprehension in your loved one.
Contact us at 484.212.6577 to find out how your loved one can benefit from our memory care program. Better yet, use our convenient online form to schedule a tour or ask questions.