Caring for a relative with dementia can be a difficult challenge, but one aspect that many family caregivers are surprised about is when their loved one exhibits wandering behavior.
Why Do Elders with Dementia Wander?
There are several reasons why elderly adults with dementia are constantly wandering. Ultimately, it is about their brain confusing the present and the past. They feel anxious about completing past behaviors and routines right now. Many try to return to familiar places from their past or run errands that they think need done as if it were a different time in their life. Seniors may say they want to go home, or they need to pick up their kids, for example.
The triggers for wandering may be identified when family caregivers pay attention to their physical, emotional and mental health needs. Before and during wandering, they are usually worried, anxious, frustrated or bored. Family caregivers and elder care providers can work together to figure out how to meet those needs and reduce or prevent wandering.
How to Prevent Elders with Dementia from Wandering
Even the most attentive family caregivers can be distracted for a moment and then discover their aging relative has wandered away. The good news is that there are several strategies that family members, friends and elder care providers can implement to lower the chances of elderly adults with dementia from wandering.
- Put locks on all doors that lead outside and make sure they are engaged. Place them very high or very low so that the aging adult doesn’t notice them and get frustrated.
- Install sensors or other devices to signal when doors to the outside are opened. These can be anything from electronic sensors to bells on the doorknobs.
- See if the elderly person will wear a tracking device in the form of a bracelet, necklace, pin or wristband. If they go too far from the home sensor, the base unit will alert someone.
- Establish a daily routine that keeps the senior engaged.
- Never leave the elderly person alone because they often feel distressed and frustrated. Always ask a family member, friend or senior care provider to stay with them.
- Plan for the senior to have plenty of activities and exercise to reduce anxiety and restlessness.
- Reassure them when they start to feel agitated and that they need to go somewhere. Redirect them and validate their feelings without giving in.
When elders wander, they can get into serious danger when they are lost and cannot remember their address. They often mistake helpful strangers as frightening people, or they could trip and fall or wander into traffic. The stress that the family caregivers experience should not be overlooked, either. By taking serious steps to ward off wandering, family caregivers and elder care services can help their elderly relatives with dementia avoid harm.
Call Today To Learn How We Support Caregivers Like You
If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring Homecare Services as a way to assist a family caregiver with dementia care, please contact the caring staff at ActivePro Nursing & Homecare Inc. Call any one of our three locations GTA: (647) 793-2525 | Niagara: (289) 434-4704 | Waterloo: (226) 318-1008