It is not uncommon for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia to become lost and disoriented, forgetting who and where they are — even when they are in a familiar place. This is a behavior known as wandering, and it is something dementia caregivers should be mindful of. Wandering is a symptom in six out of 10 dementia cases. It is common, and dangerous.
Who exactly is at risk of wandering? Anyone who experiences memory loss and can still walk on his or her own is at risk. Wandering occurs even among those who are in the earliest stages of dementia.
As a caregiver, your first job here is to look out for the signs of wandering — including each of the following:
- Trying to fulfill past obligations — i.e., trying to return to an old job or a former home.
- Wanting to “go home” even while at home.
- Pacing, or exhibiting general signs of restlessness.
- Having trouble finding familiar places, even within the home — e.g., the bathroom or the kitchen.
- Appearing to be lost or disoriented in a new or changed environment.
It is important to identify wandering, but also to prevent it. Here are some steps for doing so:
- Provide a daily routine and a sense of structure — i.e., familiar chores done at the same time each day.
- Plan activities for the parts of the day when wandering occurs most often.
- Check to ensure that your loved one’s basic needs are being met; ask if he or she needs to go to the bathroom, if he or she is hungry or thirsty, etc.
- Lock doors, but keep the locks out of sight.
- Avoid busy places that could lend to confusion, such as shopping malls.
- Invest in bells or home alarms that will let you know when doors and windows are opened.
- Provide supervision for your loved one.
One way to ensure safety and supervision is to seek full-time care in a community like CountryHouse. Learn more about our standards of safety today.
Learn more about keeping your loved one safe at CountryHouse!