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How to Recognize and Prevent Wandering in Seniors with Alzheimer’s

By Lee Nyberg, 9:00 am on

Seniors with Alzheimer’s can easily become disoriented or confused for a period of time and have difficulties remembering who they are, where they are, and even where they live. When this happens, it’s not uncommon for elderly Alzheimer’s patients to wander. Even seniors receiving live-in Alzheimer’s care in Lincoln are capable of wandering in the blink of an eye. Knowing which seniors have the highest risk of wandering and how to prevent wandering is crucial information for any senior caregiver.

Warning Signs

  •  Searching for something. Many seniors with Alzheimer’s are simply looking for something familiar to them when they become disoriented.
  • Reliving past obligations. It’s not uncommon for AD patients to attempt to do something that used to be routine for them, such as trying to go to work or a weekly meeting.
  • Having difficulty in a new or slightly altered environment. Seniors appearing lost or struggling to locate frequented places around the house like the bathroom, bedroom, or kitchen, are more likely to wander.

Prevention

Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed way to prevent a senior with Alzheimer’s from wandering, but there are many tactics that a live-in Lincoln caregiver can use to significantly lower the chances of wandering.

  • Schedule regular daily activities. This is especially important for seniors who wander at a specific time. Having a daily set schedule of activities will help create structure and reduce restlessness.
  • Avoid busy places. Seniors with Alzheimer’s should be kept from bustling places like shopping malls or grocery stores. Too much stimulation, like multiple conversations going on at once, can cause anxiety and stress that often leads to wandering.
  • Secure the home. Install new locks on windows and doors, preferably out of sight, that seniors cannot open easily. Consider putting curtains over doors to the outside to help keep them out of view, and make sure the car keys are hidden.
  • Be patient and reassuring. If a senior with Alzheimer’s expresses worry, confusion, or feelings of abandonment, reassure him or her they are safe and that you are right there with them. Do your best to be patient and explain in plain, comforting language what’s happening.

Long-Term Alzheimer’s Care

You should always have a plan in place for what-ifs. Like what-if an Alzheimer’s patient wanders? Get to know your neighborhood and neighbors, and let them know if your senior loved one has wandered in the past. Provide them with instructions on what to do if they see your senior loved one wandering, and make sure they have your phone number. Also keep a list of emergency contacts, an updated photo of your loved one, and his or her current medical information.

It’s also important to have a long-term senior care plan in place. For instance, if your senior loved one with Alzheimer’s is aging in place, don’t wait to secure an Alzheimer’s caregiver who can provide around-the-clock care. A 24/7 caregiver can help with medication reminders, ensure your senior loved one is eating a healthy diet, and, most importantly, promote a safe environment. Home Care Assistance of Lincoln is an expert in Alzheimer’s and dementia care, offers 24/7 availability, and never requires long-term contracts. To schedule a free in-home consultation, call (402) 261-5158 to speak with a qualified Care Manager today.