Family caregivers, especially of seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, worry that when they try to rest or complete a task their loved one will wander off.
Senior loved ones who have dementia are likely to wander as the disease progresses.
In fact, three out of five people with dementia will wander. That’s an estimated 3 million people each year.
Many of our seniors who wander don’t get very far and their movement is not reported to anyone in authority.
When wandering becomes severe and authorities are needed to locate a missing senior, the statistics are frightening.
If found within twelve hours, 93% will survive, meaning 7% will not survive the ordeal. The longer they are missing the greater the chance of harm.
Tips to Reduce the Likelihood of Wandering
Keeping senior loved ones with dementia from wandering and possibly getting lost is important for the caregiver.
The Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center offers these tips to reduce wandering. The first four are intended to help you get your senior loved one home safely if they should wander despite your best efforts.
- Be sure your senior loved one carries ID or wears a medical bracelet for identification in case they do wander so that they will be returned promptly, since they may not be able to tell their address or contact information.
- Let your neighbors know that your senior may wander and enlist them to alert you if they see your senior outdoors unattended.
- Mark their clothing with their name and contact info.
- Keep a recent photo and even an unwashed article of clothing that could be used in a search if needed.
- Keep your door locked and even install a deadbolt lock high enough to prevent your senior from unlocking it. A new keypad that operates via smartphone app can keep the door locked and safe by preventing the senior from opening. A keypad lock will also prevent seniors from unlocking the door.
- Install a safety cover on door knob that turns but doesn’t open door.
- Install an audio alert on door that will make a noise when opened and alert you.
- Hide the door from view using murals, paint, pictures, curtains or something else that will camouflage the door.
- Install a fence with a locked gate.
- Don’t leave the person with dementia unattended.
Here are more articles that will help caregivers of people with dementia keep their senior loved ones safe.