What to do about Wandering

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September is World Alzheimer’s Month, and to recognize the month we will bring you a series of blog posts addressing different behaviors that are common with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. This week we will take a look at Wandering.

The Alzheimer’s Association says 6 in 10 people with dementia will wander. They have a wonderful resource for you on their website specifically related to wandering. You can also find camaraderie with other family caregivers on our website, HelpForAlzheimersFamilies.org.

The Alzheimer’s Association lists some possible warning signs for you to look for, if you are concerned about your loved one.

• Are they trying to fulfill former obligations, like going to work?

• Are they trying to “go home” when they are already at their home.

• Do they ask where current or past friends and family are?

• Do they act out a hobby or chore, without getting anything done (for example, moving around pots and dirt without actually planting anything)?

Home Instead Senior Care serving the Southeast Valley offers some things you as the family caregiver can do to help lessen the worry:

• Speak with your loved one’s neighbors. Explain that Dad tends to wander. Ask that they keep an eye out and help him back home or call you if they see him walking aimlessly around the neighborhood.

• Identify times during the day that you see the warning signs most often and plan activities at that time.

• Exercise and activity will reduce anxiety, agitation and restlessness. Make short walks part of the daily routine.

• Keep to a daily routine to help provide structure.

If it’s wandering at night that you’re worried about, be sure to cover all the basics during his or her bedtime routine. Don’t offer Mom anything to drink within two hours of bedtime, and make sure she has used the restroom before going to bed. Also, install night lights around the home to avoid disorientation in the dark if she does need to use the restroom during the night. You could consider installing a rope light from the bed to the bathroom to provide a clear path in the dark.

Finally, if you’re concerned about your loved one wandering off, make a plan for what to do if he or she goes missing. A few things the Alzheimer’s Association recommends you include in your plan:

• Keep a recent, close-up photo and updated medical information on hand to give to police.

• Pinpoint dangerous areas in the neighborhood – water, open stairwells, tunnels, bus stops, etc.

• Keep a list of places the person may wander, like past jobs, former homes or places of worship.

If your loved one does wander off, don’t search alone for more than 15 minutes. Call 911 and report that a vulnerable adult, a person with Alzheimer’s disease, is missing.

If you would like more information or to talk about bringing a CAREGiver into your loved one’s home for assistance, please contact Home Instead Senior Care serving the Southeast Valley  at 480-827-4343. You can also visit our website or Like us on Facebook.




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