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Dementia and Safety series: 10 Tips on Preventing Wandering of Individuals suffering from Dementia

This is the second topic in the Wandering Section of my Dementia and Safety series – 10 Tips on Preventing Wandering of Individuals suffering from Dementia

Since we no longer keep the door unlocked and have the door chirp if opened we no longer have this problem with her going for a walk without one of us being there to watch over her.

Just know that according the Alzheimer’s Association, Wandering can happen, even if you are the most diligent of caregivers. Try using the following strategies to help lower the chances:

  1. Carry out daily activities. Having a routine can provide structure.

  2. Identify the most likely times of day that wandering may occur. Plan activities at that time. Activities and exercise can reduce anxiety, agitation and restlessness.

  3. Reassure the person if he or she feels lost, abandoned or disoriented. If the person with dementia wants to leave to "go home" or "go to work," use communication focused on exploration and validation. Refrain from correcting the person. For example, "We are staying here tonight. We are safe and I'll be with you. We can go home in the morning after a good night's rest."

  4. Ensure all basic needs are met. Has the person gone to the bathroom? Is he or she thirsty or hungry?

  5. Avoid busy places that are confusing and can cause disorientation. This could be shopping malls, grocery stores or other busy venues.

  6. Place locks out of the line of sight. Install either high or low on exterior doors, and consider placing slide bolts at the top or bottom

  7. Use devices that signal when a door or window is opened. This can be as simple as a bell placed above a door or as sophisticated as an electronic home alarm.

  8. Provide supervision. Never lock the person with dementia in at home alone or leave him or her in a car without supervision.

  9. Keep car keys out of sight. A person with dementia may drive off and be at risk of potential harm to themselves or others.

  10. If night wandering is a problem: Make sure the person has restricted fluids two hours before bedtime and has gone to the bathroom just before bed. Also, use night lights throughout the home.

I have found that having our door locked and not having keys in the door actually helped a great deal in my situation. One time I left my keys lying around and my mom picked it up and moved it somewhere it took a good couple of hours to find them. They were in the bathroom cabinet.

I will go into planning before wandering starts in the final topic in the wandering portion of the Dementia and Safety series. Please comment below with your experiences, share how you handled it.

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