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How to Keep Someone with Dementia from Wandering

smiling resident couple outside in the sun

If you have a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, the common symptoms associated with the condition should come as no surprise to you. It’s not uncommon for older adults living with dementia to become confused, disoriented and worried.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly 6 in 10 individuals with Alzheimer’s will wander at some point in their journey. As a caregiver, you might be wondering how you can prevent someone with dementia from wandering.

Wandering isn’t completely avoidable since you can’t keep an eye on someone one 24/7. Luckily, there are precautions you can take to keep your aging parent safe, minimize wandering episodes, and lower the risk altogether.

10 Ways to Prevent Wandering Behavior in a Loved One

Since it’s not possible to eliminate the risk of wandering, it’s important to do everything within your power to prevent roaming. Below are some simple ways to create a safer space for your family member if they start to wander, , including valuable tips for preventing future episodes.

  1. Keep doors locked. Specialized locks and tracking devices can be installed on doors, windows and gates. If a family member 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 someone is attempting to roam.
  3. Create a safe space. If possible, make some adjustments to your loved one’s 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. Identify any 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 your aging parent before they have the chance to wander.
  5. Alert neighbors and authorities. If someone with dementia has wandered before, it’s a good idea to notify your neighbors and local law enforcement that 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 family member if they do roam away from the house unsupervised.
  7. Carry medical identification. If you have concerns that someone might wander, create a necklace or bracelet for them to wear with medical identification information and your contact information.
  8. Camouflage all 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 aging parent to roam by hiding easily accessible car keys and wallets.
  10. Prepare yourself. It’s not easy to plan for wandering, but it’s important. Snap a photo of each day, so you have an up-to-date picture of the clothing they’re currently wearing.

What Causes Wandering?

Since every person’s experience with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia is unique, it can be difficult to pinpoint specific reasons for wandering. Most commonly, individuals with dementia wander because they’re:

  • Fearful, stressed, or confused
  • Bored
  • Trying to live out familiar routines
  • Searching for something they think is lost

The best thing you can do is talk to your loved one about their behavior and identify any potential triggers or stressors that could lead them to roam. The goal is to prevent wandering in the future and keep your loved one safe.

Specialized Care and Support When Someone You Care About Needs Help

At Walnut Place, our memory care services offer care, support, respect and dignity to each and every resident. Our goal is to provide your loved one with the quality of life they deserve, while also giving you the peace of mind that comes from knowing they’re receiving high-quality, specialized memory care 24/7.

Learn more about our assisted living community and schedule a visit to experience all our North Dallas, TX, senior living community has to offer.