What Is Walking About
There are times when most people want to walk about. People with dementia are no different. Walking is not a problem in itself it can help to relieve stress and boredom and is good exercise. But as with all behaviour, if a person with dementia is walking about and possibly leaving their home it could be a sign that they have an unmet need. By understanding what they need and looking for solutions, you can help to improve their wellbeing.
It can be worrying if you are supporting a person with dementia who often walks about. They may walk repeatedly around the house or leave the house at any time of day or night. People with dementia often have problems with orientation and memory, which may make it hard for them to find their way home. This can cause you to worry about their safety.
Warning Signs Of Wandering In Seniors With Dementia
Wandering and getting lost is common among people with dementia, and can happen during any stage of the disease.;Be on the lookout for the following warning signs:
- Returning from a routine walk or drive later than usual
- Wanting to go home, or to work, even when at home or not employed
- Paces, shows anxiety, or makes repetitive movements
- Having difficulty finding familiar places like the bathroom, bedroom, or other rooms in the house
- Asking about the whereabouts of current or past friends and family
- Appearing lost in a new or changed environment
- Setting out to do regular tasks, but accomplishes nothing
Memory Care Communities Combat Dementia Wandering
As cognitive decline increases, it may become unsafe for your relative with dementia to live at home especially if theyre at risk of wandering. Memory care provides housing and 24-hour care for seniors with Alzheimers and other forms of dementia. These communities offer stimulating activities and therapies;to reduce the likelihood of dementia wandering, and also provide a;protected environment for seniors who do wander.
Some memory care amenities to keep protect against wandering risks include:
- Specially designed memory care;hallways and neighborhoods to allow unrestricted walking and pacing
- Outdoor wandering gardens for secure exploration
- Color-coded walls and signs
- Concealed doorways to reduce agitation
- Alarmed entry and exit doors to alert staff of dangerous situations
- Well-labeled rooms, furniture, and areas
- 24/7 supervision to assist with dementia wandering at night
To learn more about;memory care communities near you, reach out to our local;Senior Living Advisors.
If A Person With Dementia Goes Missing
Ways To Prevent A Dementia Patient From Wandering
6 Ways To Prevent A Dementia Patient From Wandering Taking care of a dementia patient is not easy, especially since they tend to wander sometimes. This can become extremely overwhelming for a caregiver. Every noise at night is a worry to them, in case the patient has gone wandering off somewhere. Taking the patient out is also terrifying. If the caregiver does not keep an eye on the patient all the time, there is always a chance that he/she could get lost, or wander off somewhere and get hurt. Knowing how to prevent a dementia patient from wandering can prevent a lot of anxiety for the caregiver, and will do a lot to keep the patient safe at all times.
Its impossible for a caregiver to keep an eye on a dementia patient every second of the day, however, since they are only human, and there will be times when they simply cant stop the person from wandering.
The following are 6 ways to prevent a dementia patient from wandering, not only to keep him/her safe, but to boost the confidence of the caregiver, and reduce their stress levels as well.
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How To Reduce Dementia Wandering At Night
Dementia wandering at night is a common problem, especially in conjunction with;sundown syndrome. Denny suggests taking these steps to reduce the likelihood and hazards of nighttime wandering:
Dont Leave Them Alone
Wandering can occur at any time, day or night, so its important to keep a close eye on those with Alzheimers or dementia. However, nobody can watch their loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Therefore, family members should consider hiring a professional caregiver to help with supervising the at-risk individual, whether full-time or part-time.
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Use A Gps Tracking Device
If your loved one wanders, a wearable tracking device can help emergency personnel find him or her quickly. With most Alzheimers tracking systems, the senior wears a personal transmitterusually a bracelet, anklet, necklace or clip-on devicethat is detectable using GPS technology, radio frequency identification technology or online location management services. Many communities have implemented a program called Project Lifesaver to track and locate dementia wanderers. Check with your local police station to find out if this program or something similar is available in your area.
Some personal medical alert devices also include GPS capabilities and wandering alerts that allow caregivers to program safe geographical areas and receive notifications when a senior moves outside of these zones. However, tracking devices are only useful if a dementia patient is wearing their bracelet or pendant while wandering.
Be Prepared For Dementia Wandering
Some wandering is likely even with preventive steps. Making a plan and knowing what to do in advance will help you find your senior loved one more quickly in case of dementia wandering. Follow these four steps to ensure youre ready for an emergency.
1. Prepare important documents.;Make copies of these documents and share them with home care aides and other family caregivers:
- A recent, close-up photo of your relative
- Up-to-date medical information to give police in case of emergency
- A list of people to call for help, like friends and neighbors
- A list of places your loved one with dementia may wander former homes, jobs, favorite restaurants, or places of worship
- A list of places and people theyve mentioned while experiencing dementia symptoms
- A wandering information sheet tracking your loved ones symptoms and behaviors over time
2. Dont be afraid to ask for help.;Having all possible resources available can be necessary in case of emergency.
3. Be aware of your surroundings and your loved ones condition.;Knowledge of your neighborhood and your aging relatives wandering habits can save time in an emergency.
Special Tips For Challenging Behaviors: Wandering Incontinence Repetitions Sundowning
Caring for persons with dementiaCaregiving Essential ToolkitChanged behaviors are common in dementia, and some of these are worrying because they can harm the person with dementia and others. Some common difficult behaviors seen are wandering, incontinence, repetitions, and sundowning.
What caregivers can do:;Understand typical triggers for such behaviors. Observe the person with dementia to understand possible causes. Evaluate special tips suggested on this page, available in books, and in support groups. Decide on a suitable approach and try out changes. Keep observing what happens and adjust the approach as needed.
The behavior of a person with dementia depends on the state of dementia, on what is happening, on the persons needs, surroundings, and other factors. You can use changed behavior to understand the persons situation, abilities, and needs. Based on this understanding, you can find creative ways to cope. The previous page, Handling Behavior Challenges, discussed a general approach for changed behavior. This page discusses some specific worrying behaviors seen in many persons with dementia.
Note:; This page discusses only non-medicine approaches for behavior. If the persons behavior is harmful and cannot be managed, please consult your doctor.
Sections on this page:
Who Is At Risk Of Wandering Away And Getting Lost
The following telltale signs and wandering behaviors may help identify if a person with dementia is at increased risk of wandering away and getting lost:
- Is not able to recognize their current home. They may say, “I want to go home” because they can only remember or identify a home from their past as being their home;
- Starts searching for or asking about childhood friends or family members who do not live in the area or who passed away long ago;
- Is unable to identify the location of a favorite neighborhood park while taking an afternoon stroll or cannot remember how to get home while driving;
- Exhibits constant pacing and agitation going from room to room searching for an object or person from the past;
- Wanders outside at odd hours of the night or day.
When you become aware of these telltale signs, do not delay notifying your loved ones physician and close family members about your concerns. Also, keep a journal that includes your loved ones daily routines, sleep behaviors, and schedule of activities. Along with routines and activities, document instances of wandering behaviors. Did your loved one get lost in an area that should have been all too familiar?; Did he or she start talking about going back to another home from years past? When writing down your observations, make sure to include the time when these instances occurred, along with possible triggers. Share your information with your loved ones physician whenever possible.
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Dementia And Wandering: Causes Prevention And Tips You Should Know
Three in five people with Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia will wander, according to the Administration on Aging. This potentially dangerous result of cognitive decline may occur when a senior with dementia is trying to find someone or something. It can also be the result of discomfort, anxiety, or fear.
If a person is confused because of memory changes, and the environment becomes uncomfortable, they may attempt to leave the situation to get away from the discomfort, says Andrea Denny, outreach, recruitment and engagement core leader for the Knight Alzheimer Disease Research Center in St. Louis, Missouri. This desire to escape the overwhelming stimuli may cause what we call wandering. While people with dementia often leave with a goal or destination in mind, they may forget directions, encounter an obstacle in their planned route, or realize the place theyre trying to reach is imaginary or inaccessible.
Wandering sometimes called elopement can be dangerous. Nearly 50% of seniors who wander will suffer a fall, fracture, injury, or some type of elemental exposure, according to a 2016 assessment of wandering behaviors in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Fortunately, research suggests;certain strategies and technologies can help decrease;dementia wandering. Learn whos at risk of elopement, potential causes, 12 tips to reduce wandering, and how to be prepared if dementia wandering occurs.
Canadas Seniors And Wandering
According to the Alzheimers Association, 6 in 10 people with dementia will wander, and if not found within 24 hours, up to half will suffer serious injury or death.
Due to Canadas growing number of seniors, many of whom are afflicted with Alzheimers and dementia, wandering is increasing. Even in familiar places, a person with Alzheimers may not remember his or her name or address, and can become disoriented. Wandering with dementia is dangerous, but there are strategies and services to help prevent it.
Of course, no one can watch another person every second of every day, and the anxiety;for caregivers can become overwhelming. You listen for every creak at night. You may stop taking your loved one to public places. And if you live away from him or her, the stress increases even more.
Possible Causes Of Sleeplessness And Night
- Tranquillisers: If the person with dementia is taking tranquillisers, they might be contributing to wandering. This is because if the dose is too low, the person may wander around in a drugged state, neither fully awake nor fully asleep. Too high a dose can lead to drowsiness and increased daytime confusion, and even the right dose can increase the likelihood of night-time incontinence. Of course, if you desperately need sleep, you may well feel obliged to ask your doctor about the possibility of prescribing tranquillisers.
- Disturbance of the night and day rhythm: Many people with dementia lose the ability to distinguish between night and day. It can help if you make sure that the room is dark at night, e.g. put up heavy dark curtains. Removing daytime clothing from sight may also discourage the person with dementia from getting up in the middle of the night.
- Discomfort: The person will be more likely to sleep well if they are comfortable. So try to make sure that they are neither too hot nor too cold, that the bed is well made, the mattress comfortable and the window as they like it, either open or closed.
Look For A Pattern Or Underlying Cause
- Keep a diary of when and where your loved one tends to wander. This may give you clues as to what is triggering the behaviour. If they wander at night, perhaps they are hungry or thirsty. Leaving a glass of water or a few crackers by their bed might help.
- Anticipate the times your loved one may wander, or has wandered before. If they tend to wander at the same time every day or when they are bored, plan meaningful activities to keep them better engaged. If they are searching for a spouse or child, leave a note stating that he or she will be visiting soon to provide reassurance and reduce wandering.
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Clothing And Personal Id
- Have your loved one wear bright clothing to make it easier for them to be seen from a distance and easier to spot in a crowd.
- Make sure your loved one always carry ID. Medical ID jewellry such as a pendant or bracelet is less likely to get misplaced or forgotten. Consider sewing identification into their clothing.
Warn Neighbors And Authorities
Caregivers often dont know their loved ones are missing before someone finds them. If neighbors are made aware of the situation, they can be on the look-out in case a senior wanders outside and around the community. Its also important to notify the local police about your loved ones tendency to wander. Many law enforcement agencies have developed voluntary registries for caregivers to submit information about and photos of loved ones with dementia to ensure they are returned home safely. Police officers and other first responders then have access to this information and can use appropriate dementia-friendly protocols in the event they encounter a senior who is lost or involved in an emergency situation.
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Limit Daytime Sleeping And Keep The Person With Dementia Active
Daytime napping tends to reduce the likelihood of sleeping at night. People with dementia may sleep more during the day because they are bored, inactive or didn’t sleep at night. A good way to help is therefore to keep the person active and stop them from sleeping during the day. This would be easier if you had access to a day centre where staff can keep the person busy all day. Physical activity and fresh air are another means to help induce sleep at night. The chapter on recreation, activities and exercise might give you a few ideas, such as walking, dancing and simple exercises.
Managing Wandering In Dementia
When an individual with dementia wanders, they’re at risk of accidents, injuries and even death.
Wandering is defined as:
A tendency to move about either in a seemingly aimless or disoriented fashion, or in pursuit of an indefinable or unobtainable goal.
Confusion, disorientation, boredom and loneliness can all precipitate wandering in someone affected by dementia.
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Tips To Help Prevent Seniors With Dementia From Wandering
- Provide supervision. Never lock the person in at home or leave him or her in a car alone.
- Avoid busy places that are confusing and can cause disorientation. This could include shopping malls, grocery stores, or other busy venues.
- Make sure the person always carries ID.Keeping an ID in a persons wallet isnt enough, because he or she could remove it, either deliberately or accidentally. Medical ID jewelry, like a bracelet or pendant, is wise.
- Dress your loved one in bright clothing. Choose clothing thats easy to see from a distance, especially if youre planning to be in a crowd.
- Carry out daily activities. Having a routine and daily plan can provide structure.
- Note the most likely times of day that wandering may occur. Plan activities at that time.
- Activities, exercise, and regular sleep. All of these can reduce anxiety, agitation, and restlessness.
- Reassure the person if he or she feels lost, abandoned, or disoriented. If the person wants to leave to go home or go to work, do not correct him or her. Say that he or she is safe, and you are there,then follow up with what you will be doing together.
- Ensure all basic needs are met. Check if the person needs the bathroom, or is thirsty or needs to eat. He or she may tend to wander for these reasons.