Wandering is a common problem for seniors who have dementia. Wandering can make caregivers anxious about their loved one’s safety as they could easily have an accident or get lost. Knowing the warning signs and possible causes of wandering can help you protect loved ones who have problems with wandering.
Warning Signs of Wandering
How can you tell if a loved one is developing problems with wandering? Here are a few signs to look out for:
- Comes home later than normal from daily walks or drives
- Talks about “going home” when they are already home or “going to work” when they’ve been retired for years
- Forgets directions to familiar places such as the grocery store, pharmacy, park, etc.
- Becomes restless and paces aimlessly around the house
- Has trouble finding their bedroom, bathroom, living room, etc. in the house
Causes of Wandering
Wandering may be caused by a number of reasons. Your loved one may become fearful due to not recognizing where they are and wander off in hopes of finding familiar surroundings. Restlessness and boredom may prompt a senior to wander off in search of something to do or someone to pass the time with. Wandering may be your loved one’s way of escaping situations they don’t understand or is unhappy with. If you can determine a reason for the wandering, you’ll have an easier time handling the problem.
Here are a few strategies you can use to help prevent wandering and protect the one you love.
Daily Routine. Develop a daily routine for loved ones to follow to include regular wake up and bed times, scheduled mealtimes, exercise and activities loved ones enjoy, within their capabilities. Seniors who live an active lifestyle are less likely to wander.
Reassurance. If your loved one feels restless or disoriented at home, they may need constant reassurance that they’re safe, loved and well cared for. Your love and support can go a long ways towards comforting a loved one who feels like “running away from home.”
Basic Needs. Make sure your loved one has their basic needs such as food, water, easy access to a bathroom, etc., and that they are supervised at all times to avert wandering.
Secure Home. Secure your home with locks on windows and doors placed up high where they’re less noticeable and more difficult for your loved one to reach. If finances permit, install a fence around your property to discourage your loved one from wandering off. If your loved one can drive, keep your car keys in a safe location out of sight.
Identification. Have your loved one carry some sort of I.D. at all times. A medical bracelet, I.D. info sewed onto clothing, GPS or another tracking device would make it easier to identify a senior who gets lost wandering.
By taking precautionary measures, you can protect your loved one from getting hurt or lost due to wandering. For extra help in caring for a wandering senior, contact us at Sunny Days In-Home Care at 724-260-5186.