Many people with Alzheimer’s or other memory loss, begin to wander as the disease progresses. Wandering is part of mid-stage Alzheimer’s and lasts about a year and a half. If your loved one lives at home, you may wonder how to protect them from the dangers of leaving home and getting lost.
Why do People Wander?
People wander for many reasons, but usually, they get confused and think there is somewhere they need to go. People in their elder years are from a generation that takes their commitments seriously and gets very anxious about missing meetings or other obligations.
Risks with Wandering
Wandering can be dangerous for your loved one. Also, wandering is scary and stressful for both the elderly person and their caregivers/loved ones. Some of the potential risks for harm include:
- Getting lost and injured trying to find their way home.
- Effects from extreme weather such as hypothermia, frostbite, dehydration, or heat stroke.
- If they live near a lake or pond, potential drowning is a risk.
Not all wandering involves walking. Sometimes a person safely drives to a place they commonly frequent and they get lost finding their way home. This is especially common when the weather changes and a storm pops up. Stormy weather is disorienting and causes stress – in turn making it difficult for them to find their way back home.
Ways to Help Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s
- Make sure they have a cell phone in their car plugged in, with location tracking. You can easily pinpoint their location if a phone with GPS is charged and with them.
- Make sure they have signed up for online banking. If they wander very far from home, you can easily find out if they have used their debit card, and where.
- Make sure you have a current picture of your loved one.
- If your loved one is missing be sure and call the police department and tell them you are calling about an elderly person with memory loss, that you believe they could be in danger. They will issue a Silver Alert to activate resources to immediately begin searching.
- Invest in a watch that gives their location and allows you to interact with them. This article offers reviews of the most helpful watches, although technology changes quickly, this offers a good starting place and great ideas.
When Wandering is a Serious Safety Hazard
If wandering continues to place your loved one in danger, you might consider home health care, or assisted living with memory care.
Following the suggestions in this post will help you have peace of mind as you evaluate and monitor the risk of your loved one wandering. If you need help evaluating your loved one or finding a good senior care solution, please schedule a call with me.