Using Redirection to Manage Wandering
Often, as the disease progresses, people with Alzheimer’s behave in ways that are difficult to manage. It’s not that they want to be disagreeable or difficult. Their brain has changed and they cannot process information the way a healthy brain can.
One thing that may help you cope with wandering is reduced working memory. When your loved one starts to walk down the street, this person will soon forget why he or she wanted to. In situations like this, you might join this person on this walk for a few minutes. Be with him or her. Notice what he or she is seeing. Talk calmly to your loved one. Avoid saying anything that shows you are upset. After a few minutes of walking together and chatting, you can then suggest something pleasant to do back home. You might say, “This walking is sure thirsty work. When we get home, which would you prefer: a nice cup of tea or some apple juice?” Then you can gently direct the conversation and your steps back home.
Redirecting and giving simple choices are two ways you can brush through many difficult situations with minimal fuss. So too is saying you are sorry—even if you have done nothing wrong. Take the blame and the moment will pass. The trick is to avoid creating further confusion or uneasiness. Go with your loved one first, then gently steer him or her where he or she needs to be.