Dementia and Safety Series: Wandering and Dementia – What it is and my story
People with Alzheimer's or any other type of Dementia more likely or not are living in their homes, alone or with a health care provider or family member. This is fine as long as safety measures are in place. As Alzheimer's progresses, a person's abilities change. It’s important to adapt the home environment to support these changes over time.
This series on my blog is called Dementia and Safety. It will have four parts based on the tops safety concerns: Wandering / Driving / Home safety / Medication. In each part I will let you know how I dealt with regards to each topic, to share from a caregiver point of view and maybe you would comment on my blog post with your input.
Wandering (3 blog Posts)What is it and my story
Driving (3 blog posts)
What signs to look out for
Having the conversation with the individual with Dementia
Planning so the individual with Dementia has a voice and fills empowered
Home - Home safety tips
Medication (2 blog Posts)
Working with the doctor and pharmacist
Giving medication to someone with Alzheimer's
So, let’s get started with topic Wandering – What is it? My Story
According to the Alzheimer’s association, Wandering and getting lost is common among people with dementia and can happen during any stage of the disease.
Here’s my story:
As you may know if you followed my blog for a while, I’m a full time employee and a part time caregiver for my mom who lives with her husband in North Carolina while I live in Virginia so I go there as often as I can which is mainly on the weekends. Her husband’s daughter lives in Massachusetts. She gets there when she can which is not as often, so basically I’m the main one which is fine as it’s my mom.
I usually check in via phone daily to see if she’s okay and see how Dave her husband doing and he vents to me about his daily challenges caring for her. At that time we had a nursing assistant come in for ½ a day three days a week to clean her, assist with feeding her and to document her status. I mean she just constantly wanders around the house all day so he basically has to make sure that she doesn’t slip and fall. This assistance was supposed to be a means to give Dave a breather.
Well let me tell you, she was not trying to mess with those nursing assistants. She didn’t want them to touch her or assist her with eating her food, Nor did she didn’t want to talk to them either. Now this didn’t help Dave who otherwise had to continue to assist the nursing assistants in helping mom so we cancelled the nursing assistant service.
The day she wandered outside the house:
While the nursing assistant was speaking to Dave she just walked outside, walked down the street in her nightgown. Usually the door is locked but it was left open so that the nursing assistant can go in and out, and Dave didn’t want to give her a key. So they noticed that they didn’t hear or see her so they went to check on her and she was nowhere in the house, the nursing assistant to go outside and walk to the backyard. Panic obviously set in, the nursing assistant decided to get in the car to search for her and found her almost ½ block away from a busy street. She basically walked 3 blocks down the neighborhood.
Can you imagine how I felt hearing this? I mean my heart just sunk, as my stress level rose. I’m sure that this is the reason that I have High Blood Pressure. What could I do almost 400 miles away? Thank god it wasn’t cold outside. The nursing aide asked her where she was going, she said home.
After that we shut the place (Their House) like Fort Knox. I knew that things with her Alzheimer’s were getting worst. I guess that sometimes I kind of put myself in a state of denial just to cope. Don’t get me wrong I know the seriousness of this horrific disease, but sometimes you have to do something internally to deal with your current reality while dealing with after your 9 to 5. So tell me in the comments have you dealt with wandering with you loved one? How did you handle it?
remember to sign up for my blog if you want to follow this series: Next up in the wandering series: Preventing Wandering.