Home Instead’s Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias Training Program stresses the importance of creating a safe environment. To minimize opportunities to wander, follow these tips from Home Instead:
- Make your home safe. Put deadbolts high and out of reach. Put a sign on the bathroom door or leave the light on at night if the family member is looking for the bathroom. Alarm doors and windows, or consider investing in an alarmed mat that goes off when someone gets out of bed.
- Look for patterns and triggers. A person may wander off in the morning thinking it’s time to go to work or school. Over-stimulation or worry about a friend, family member, or a pet may be a cause. Sylvia often worried about feeding her animals. When her daughter Elaine reassured her that they were being taken care of and spent a few minutes reminiscing about her mother’s life, Sylvia calmed down, and seemed to feel less of an urge to wander.
- Carefully plan outings. If your family member wanders, don’t go to places with large groups. Take an extra helper along if possible. Choose places with family-friendly/uni-sex bathrooms.
- Plan for the worst. Have extra copies of photographs of your family member to give to first responders. Keep track of the clothes he or she is wearing. Consider registering your loved one with the National Alzheimer’s Association wandering prevention program called Medic Alert/Safe Return.