What Caregivers Need to Know About Wandering

The number of wandering episodes has been steadily rising, posing life-threatening consequences to those individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Today, it is estimated that 60% of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other memory impairments will display some form of wandering behavior, which will puts vulnerable individuals at great risk.

Know the signs

Be aware of some of the potential wandering warning signs. If your family member or friend:

  • Forgets how to get to familiar places
  • Talks about going to work or to a relative’s home
  • Wants to ‘go home’ even when at home
  • Is restless, paces or makes repetitive movements
  • Is having difficulty locating familiar places like the bathroom, bedroom or dining room
  • Begins to act nervous or anxious in crowded areas, such as shopping malls or restaurants

Be prepared

The best practices as a caregiver to help protect a loved one from the consequences of a wandering episode is to plan for the behavior, prevent their ability to wander and prepare a strategy in the event a wandering episode occurs.

  • Plan: Create a space that your loved one feeds safe in and allows for comfortable movement. If they have a previous history of wandering, it is recommend that they not be left unattended.
  • Prevent: Wandering prevention is key and can be accomplished with locks, alarms and other mechanisms
  • Prepare: Have a strategy ready to implement in the event that wandering occurs. Have personal objects, recent photos and wandering history readily available to provide to first-responders. Utilize identification or locating tools and technology.

All wandering behavior is potentially hazardous. If an individual goes missing, the longer they are missing, the more likely they may incur injury. Wandering is a problem that knows no age and can occur in anyone with impaired cognitive function, particularly those with memory impairments. Even if your family member or friend does not actively present wandering behavior, practice prevention methods in advance.

In Tessera of Westchase’s secured Valeo™ memory care neighborhood, residents and their families enjoy a sense of community where the team is focused on maximizing residents’ abilities in a comfortable and safe environment. Contact us to learn more.

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