The Alzheimer’s Association states that six out of every 10 people with dementia wander. Wandering can be very dangerous for a person with dementia because sometimes they cannot remember their names, where they live, or any other information that can help to bring them home safely. While it’s impossible for family caregivers and senior care providers to watch a person with dementia every second of every day, there are some techniques for preventing wandering that could help keep your parent safer.
Add Security Measures to the Home
Adding locks to doors that are out of your parent’s line of sight or that are difficult to open may help. Slide bolts added near the tops of doors where your parent isn’t likely to look may help. You might also want to consider fencing the yard and placing a lock on the gate. That way your parent can still go outside to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, but isn’t as likely to leave the yard. Other options are to add motion detectors that will alert you when a door is opened or simply to attach bells to doors so that you will hear them open.
Ensure ID is On Your Parent at All Times
Just having an ID card in your parent’s wallet or purse isn’t likely to be enough since they may leave the house without it. Instead, purchase a medical ID bracelet or pendant that they wear at all times. Sew identification information inside your parent’s jacket as well. Another option is to purchase temporary tattoos that provide identification information. Temporary tattoos are more often marketed toward the parents of small children, but work well for older adults with dementia, too.
Stick to a Routine
Following a routine can prevent wandering because they add structure to your parent’s day and can reduce feelings of agitation. Create a written plan for all family caregivers and senior care providers to follow so that everyone is following the same routine every day.
Plan Activities for Times of Greatest Agitation
Figure out when your parent is most likely to wander and fill that time with activities to keep them occupied. If your parent is busy helping you fold towels, having a snack, or making a craft, they won’t have the opportunity to wander.
Put Car Keys Away
Never leave car keys where your parent can get them. Your parent may not remember that they are no longer able to drive and may drive away.
Provide as Much Supervision as Possible
Leaving a person with dementia home alone or alone in an unfamiliar place can be unsafe. Hiring a senior care provider through an agency can help by providing supervision while family caregivers go to work or tend to other responsibilities. Senior care providers make it possible for people with dementia to remain safely in their homes by watching over them, preparing meals, and assisting them with daily tasks that become too difficult because of cognitive decline. Senior care providers can be hired to spend the entire day with your parent or just a few hours. They can even stay overnight.
If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in North Hills, PA, please call and talk to the caring staff at Extended Family Care of Pittsburgh at (412) 693-6009. We will answer all of your questions.
Laura has earned her MBA in Health Care Administration from Canisius College, a Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo and is currently a CPR/First Aid Instructor for the American Red Cross. Laura has sat on three Professional Advisory Committees throughout the community, has been on the Board of Directors for a non-profit nursing home, currently acts as an Advisory Board Member for the Allegheny County Respite Care Coalition, Gateway Health Plan, and the North Allegheny School District Elementary Advisory Council. She is also an active committee member of the Southwestern PA Partnership on Aging, Twilight Wish Foundation and Marshall Elementary Yearbook Committee.
Raising four active children with her husband Brian, she seems to spend more time on baseball and soccer fields than she does at home which helps her appreciate their family vacation time even more.
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