Caregiving & Aging March/April 2023 Newsletter
Mar 23, 2023
The Danger of Wandering
Wandering is a very common and potentially dangerous behavior among individuals living with demen-tia. It is of particularly great concern in our region where freezing temperatures, ice, and snow create additional safety hazards. Here are some tips to help avoid this serious danger.
Tips for families:
Address the motivation for wandering. There can be many reasons why someone with dementia wants to walk outdoors. It may provide a feeling of purposefulness, excitement, or pleasure. Wandering can also be a response to excessive stimuli, triggered by the need to get away from noises and people. It could be an expression of an unmet need (i.e., hungry, thirsty, a need to use the bathroom). You might try: creating walking paths around the home with visual cues and stimulating objects; engaging the per-son in simple tasks; offering stimulating and enjoyable activities (i.e., exercise, music, crafts). Ensuring basic needs are met can reduce the chances of wandering.
Safeguard the home. Be mindful of how objects like car keys, jackets, and purses might trigger the per-son to leave suddenly. Install electronic chimes or doorbells on doors so someone is alerted if the indi-vidual tries to exit. Consider utilizing a smart doorbell with an app that can notify you when someone is entering or exiting the home.
Be aware of your loved one’s patterns. Know what times of the day may be more activating than oth-ers, and try to provide stimulating activities during that time. Encourage healthy sleep habits to reduce the chances of the person leaving during the middle of the night. If your loved one does wander, keep a record of their patterns (frequency, duration, time of day, etc.) to help guide you in the future.
Develop a safety plan. Keep a list of places the person may go (i.e., previous home or place of employ-ment, favorite spots around town), a recent close-up photo, and medical information readily accessible to give to first responders if needed. Maintain a list of people to contact if the person goes missing and ask neighbors to call you if they see the person out on their own.
This article was adapted from January 26, 2023 article posted on the Alzheimer’s Foundation website.
For further information visit www.alzfdn.org