Understanding the Wandering Behavior of Alzheimer’s Patients and How to Keep Them Safe

Man behind locked door
Wandering or getting lost is often one of the most concerning symptoms for Alzheimer’s patients.

Of the numerous effects of Alzheimer’s disease, probably one of the most concerning is the person’s propensity for wandering and also the potential dangers that could develop in the event that the senior becomes disoriented or lost. Wandering may occur if the older adult is:

  • Frightened, confused or overwhelmed
  • Searching for someone or something
  • Bored
  • Trying to keep a familiar former routine (for example, going to work or shopping)
  • Taking care of a fundamental necessity (such as looking for a drink of water or going to the bathroom)

The aim is twofold; to help keep the senior safe and secure, as well as to be certain his or her needs are met to try and stop the desire to wander to start with. Consider the following safety precautions in case your family member is prone to wander:

  • Make sure the residence is equipped with a security system and locks that a senior loved one cannot master, such as a sliding bolt lock above his / her range of vision. An assortment of alarms can be found, from something as easy as placing a bell over door knobs, to highly-sensitive pressure mats which will sound an alarm when stepped on, to GPS products that may be worn, and many more. It’s also a smart idea to register for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return Program.
  • Camouflage exits by covering doors with curtains, placing short-term folding barriers strategically around doorways, or by wallpapering or painting doors to match the surrounding walls. You can try placing “NO EXIT” signs on doors, which can sometimes dissuade those who are in the earlier stages of dementia from trying to exit.
  • Another danger for individuals who wander is the increased risk of falling. Look over each room of the house and tackle any tripping concerns, such as getting rid of throw rugs, extension cords, and any obstructions which might be blocking walkways, adding extra lighting, and placing gates at the top and bottom of stairways.

It’s important to bear in mind that by using guidance and direction, wandering is not necessarily a problem. Take a stroll with each other outside if weather allows and your loved one is in the mood to be mobile, providing the additional advantage of fresh air, exercise, and quality time together.

While often tough to manage, our experts in home care at Midnight Sun Home Care is specially trained to be equally watchful and proactive in deterring wandering and to utilize creative techniques to help seniors with dementia remain calm and content. Contact us at (907) 677-7890 to learn more about personal care assistants in Alaska.


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