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How to Keep Someone with Dementia from Wandering

A senior couple smiling and laughing together.

As a caregiver, you already know many challenging symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. But did you know that according to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly 6 in 10 individuals living with Alzheimer’s will wander at some point in their journey?

Wandering can be challenging to prevent entirely, mainly because you can’t keep an eye on someone during every minute of the day. So what are your options? You can take some precautions to help minimize the risk of wandering and provide yourself with some peace of mind that your loved one is safe.

10 Ways to Prevent Wandering Behavior in a Loved One

Wandering can happen for any number of reasons, and so it can be challenging to eliminate the risk entirely. What you can do is take smart precautions to minimize the risks and help to prevent wandering episodes in the future.

  1. Add locks to doors. Specialized locks and tracking devices can be installed on doors, windows, and gates. If your someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia does try to wander, it will be difficult for them to leave.
  2. Install video or wandering alarms. There are many options for video alarms that will alert caregivers if a family member is attempting to roam.
  3. Make safety a priority. If possible, make some adjustments to living quarters to make it safe if they do roam. Removing tripping hazards, covering sharp corners, and blocking stairs can go a long way toward keeping your loved one safe.
  4. Find behavioral patterns. Many people living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia have patterns to their behaviors. If you can identify triggers, you can keep an eye on them before they have the chance to wander.
  5. Alert neighbors and authorities. If your family member has wandered before, it’s a good idea to notify your neighbors and local law enforcement there’s a possibility it will happen again.
  6. Use a tracking device. GPS tracking devices can be beneficial in helping you quickly find your loved one if they do roam away from the house unsupervised.
  7. Carry medical identification. If you have concerns that a family member might wander, create a necklace or bracelet for them to wear with medical identification information and your contact information.
  8. Disguise exits. You can discourage individuals with dementia from roaming by covering up doors to the outside. Consider placing a stop sign or other warning message on the door to act as a signal to stay away.
  9. Move keys, wallets and purses. Make it as difficult as possible for your loved one to roam by hiding easily accessible car keys and wallets.
  10. Be prepared. It’s not easy to plan for someone to wander, but it’s important. Snap a photo each day, so you have an up-to-date picture of the clothing they’re currently wearing.

What Causes Wandering?

Individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia experience a range of symptoms that can cause wandering behaviors. While each person’s experience is different, it often happens because of one or more of the following reasons:

  • Fear
  • Stress
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Desire to relive certain routines
  • Looking for something
  • Boredom

The best thing you can do as a caregiver is sit down with your family member and try to discern patterns in their behavior or thought processes that might help you prevent wandering episodes in the future.

Specialized Care and Support When Your Loved One Needs Help

After a loved one has been diagnosed with a form of dementia, it takes a community like Signature Pointe to regain control. Our memory care community is a neighborhood designed to help residents live each day with as much purpose as possible. Our memory care community offers more than just a protective environment, we also offer dynamic programming, life-affirming activities, and more.

Learn more about our memory care community and contact us today to learn about all our North Dallas, TX, senior living community has to offer.