Nothing takes the place of caregiver vigilance – which means the best way to keep your loved one safe from wandering is to be constantly aware and use your eyes and ears. It can happen at any stage of the disease. The factors that often lead to wandering are restlessness, disorientation and boredom. Common causes of wandering include:
- Searching for something or someone familiar or simply trying to satisfy a basic need, such as hunger or thirst — but they’ve forgotten what to do or where to go. Many wanderers are looking for a bathroom.
- Escaping from something like too much stimulation, a loud TV or a lively conversation, even the noise of pots and pans in the kitchen.
- Reliving the past by trying to go to work or looking for children.
Strategies that may help:
- Immediately redirect to a productive activity or exercise if the patient is pacing or restless. Offer constant reassurance.
- Look for patterns. If the patient gets restless in the late afternoon be prepared every afternoon. Go for a walk or a drive. Have a lemonade break. Find what works to distract.
- Never leave the patient alone or unattended. Be sure neighbors know to call if they see the patient unattended.
- Install child-safety devices or alarms in your home to keep doors and windows secured.
Products May Help
The Alzheimer’s Store – www.alzstore.com: offers a range of products including GPS watches, door alarms and visual deterrents, as well as a host of other products designed to make your life easier. GPS watches offer the added benefit of alerting the caregiver by text if the patient has left a pre-established boundary, like the house or yard.
GizmoGadet, GPS watch and locator, with lots of interesting features, $149.99 and $5 month fee. Available for Verizon customers.
Every person with dementia who is still driving should be protected by a GPS system that can help their family or law enforcement locate them if they become lost.