It’s been reported that three in five people with dementia wander. Wandering is defined as going out somewhere, wandering off track, and getting lost. It’s a common symptom of dementia, but one which can put your loved one (and sometimes others) at risk.

Quality Life Services offers services to help you keep your loved one from wandering and to help care for people with dementia. We help them stay as independent as possible while helping prevent dangerous wandering.

Tips to Help with Alzheimer’s Wandering

People with Alzheimer’s wander for a variety of reasons, which range from simply wanting to take a walk (but not being able to remember how to get back) to looking for past friends to trying to get to a former job.

Wandering becomes unsafe if the weather is extreme (particularly extremes of temperature), if the person wanders into a secluded area where they may not be found, or if the person is not paying attention and wanders into traffic, which can also endanger others.

Some tips to help deal with wandering:

  • Give the person an ID card or medical bracelet with their name on it. Placing labels in or even on their garments can help, too.
  • Have the person wear a tracking device.
  • Inform the police the person is inclined to wander, and consider enlisting friends and neighbors.
  • Make a list of places they’re inclined to wander to, such as former homes, places of work, a favorite bar or restaurant, etc.
  • Enlist them in the MedicAlert and Alzheimer’s Association safe-return program – this provides an identification bracelet, necklace, or tags and access to 24-hour support. You can call them if you lose track of the person.
  • A good habit is to keep an item of worn, unwashed clothing in a plastic bag, but ensure you change it out regularly. If they’re ever lost this could allow for dogs to locate them by scent.

Be extra vigilant in places where wandering is particularly unsafe, such as close to a busy highway or railroad tracks.

Preventing Alzheimer’s Wandering in the First Place

Wandering can take an emotional toll on you, your family, and friends of your loved ones. As mentioned, it can also place the person with dementia and others in danger. Searching for the lost loved one can also take a lot of resources.

It’s often best to prevent wandering in the first place. Some tips:

  • Place STOP, DO NOT ENTER, or CLOSED signs on doors to the outside.
  • Install window safety devices on any windows that open far enough to allow escape.
  • Install an alarm or announcing system that chimes or speaks when a door is opened.
  • If you have a yard, fence it and lock the gate.
  • Keeping car keys and sometimes even suitcases out of sight could also aid in preventing a loved one from wandering.

Somebody who has a history of wandering should be supervised.

When somebody is wandering dangerously, it is time to consider moving them to a personal care facility with a secure unit. This might seem to be harsh confinement, but it is for the best to keep them safe. Quality Life Services provides high-quality personal care facilities with staff trained to deal with cognitive decline.

There’s Help For Alzheimer’s Available

Dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be extremely stressful. Without quality professional help, it can quickly become overwhelming. Dementia wandering can be one of the most stressful factors, with your loved one disappearing and search parties having to go out to find them.

Quality Life Services provides home health aides, personal care facilities, and skilled nursing facilities. For those who wander regularly, moving to a personal care facility that can handle their issues while providing social and recreational activities on-site is often the best option. Call us today at 724-431-0770 and ask us about our facilities and your options for your loved ones.


Image credit: candy candy / Shutterstock