Why Dementia Wandering is Dangerous
Brian SheridanJul 18th, 2022
Please note: If you found this article because an elderly loved one has wandered off and can’t be located, call 911 immediately and tell the police that the missing person has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Do not wait 24 hours or even another minute. Every second is crucial to finding the person and getting them home safely.
An Alzheimer’s disease or dementia diagnosis means a new journey full of new and often challenging experiences for the whole family. One of those challenges is the risk of dementia wandering.
Wandering, also known as elopement, is common in people experiencing progressive cognitive impairment. It occurs when someone with dementia leaves a safe area, triggered by changes in the brain caused by the disease.
People who wander often have a particular destination in mind, such as a childhood home, school, playground, or another place that once brought them joy. In many cases, the person is operating using their long-term memory, seeking places they knew well years or decades earlier. They also wander to escape an uncomfortable or upsetting environment, whether it exists at home or in a public setting.
Wandering can be very dangerous for people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The disorientation caused by the disease can result in them getting lost and having difficulty finding their way home. In the meantime, they can become lost, miss a scheduled medication, become injured, or worse.
Managing and preventing episodes of dementia wandering can be stressful for families. They must take all the appropriate steps to keep the person from following their long-term memories and seeking an exit out of the home. Since wandering can occur at any time of the day or night, and in the blink of an eye, the person will need to be monitored 24/7, which isn’t practical for most families.
Fortunately, Memory Care communities offer a safe and secure living arrangement that takes the worry away from families attempting to prevent wandering on their own.
Can dementia wandering be managed at home?
Many families do excellent jobs caring for family members diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. However, the work isn’t easy. It requires training, skills, and a lot of patience and empathy to be able to manage someone with a cognitive condition on a daily basis.
The risk of dementia wandering elevates the necessities of care. It only takes you leaving the room for a few seconds for someone to slip out the door quietly. The person must be watched around the clock to minimize the wandering risk. That’s difficult for most families, even if they take shifts monitoring their loved ones.
To help combat wandering, you may need to make modifications to your home. Some of these modifications include obscuring doors with neutral floor mats, wallpaper, or paint that matches the room’s décor or installing alarms, warning bells, and motion-detection devices at all exit points, including windows. You may also need to install a warning device in their bed that alerts you if they get up at night.
Some lifestyle changes may be necessary too. For example, your family may need to start hiding car keys, store flyers, newspapers, or anything else that might suggest to your loved one that they need to go somewhere.
Despite all your best efforts to minimize the risk, the person may still find a way to wander. It’s not their fault – it’s just the nature of the disease. As the disease progresses over time, managing and preventing wandering may become too unwieldy for your family. The best solution to keep your older loved one safe is placement in Memory Care, where resident safety and security are paramount.
How Memory care helps protect your loved one from dementia wandering
Memory Care communities provide specialized environments where people with cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can thrive and be happy. They also feature various devices that help prevent wandering and keep residents safe and accounted for at all times, including:
- Alarms on all the exit points
- Keypad exits with 10-second delays on attempts to open outside doors without first putting in a special code
- Personal, wearable devices that alert central staff when a senior with dementia has left their protected area
These safety protocols don’t force residents into a perpetual state of lockdown. The friendly, specially-trained staff in Memory Care provides residents with ample opportunities to socialize, participate in engaging activities, and share meals in the common dining hall.
The Memory Care community is designed to meet your loved one’s cognitive needs. Vibrant colors on the walls and place settings, stimulating scents, and brain-healthy food in the dining hall all help stimulate brain activity. Many families have told me that placement in Memory Care has actually slowed the progression of dementia in their loved ones – which is always gratifying and inspiring to hear!
Best of all, Memory Care provides effective management of dementia wandering, taking the responsibility away from families so they can focus on spending more quality time with their elderly loved ones in a place created just for them.
No-cost help finding quality Memory Care in Northeast Florida
Many families find that navigating the world of senior living can be daunting and confusing, especially if they’re doing it alone or for the first time.
That’s why families looking for Assisted Living or Memory Care in Northeast Florida call Brian Sheridan of Assisted Living Locators. Brian and his team will take the time to get to know your elderly loved one’s needs, wants, and requirements and present a list of best-fit options that suit their lifestyle. With Brian on your side, you’ll have all the information you need to make the most informed decision possible.
Contact Brian at 904-559-3203 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find the Best Senior Living Community in Northeast Florida for you or a family member today!