Wandering is a common problem for people with dementia, but it’s not something you ever want to experience with your senior firsthand. As scary as the idea is, you can prepare just in case this happens to your aging family member.
Knock on the Neighbor’s Doors
You never know who happened to see which direction your senior headed off in, so it’s a good idea to start out by talking to as many neighbors as you can. Knock on doors or call if you have their phone numbers. People often notice things happening without realizing the importance of what they’re seeing. Make sure they’re aware, for the future, that your senior might wander and how to contact you if they see him.
Call Your Local Police Department
Make sure that you contact your local police department, too. They may not be able to send anyone to help you, but you can at least let them know that someone who is vulnerable has wandered away from home. If they get any phone calls or information, they can contact you or send someone to help. Some municipalities have officers assigned to help with older adults and the situations that older adults might encounter. Ask your local police department if that’s the case where your elderly family member lives.
Make Sure You Have a Picture and a Description Handy
Having a fairly recent picture and a good description is really important, too. If you can, get in the habit of taking pictures of your senior a few times a week. This does a few things. You’re capturing moments and memories and you’re also building up your stockpile of recent photos. Hopefully, you’ll only ever use the photos in family photo albums, but they’re a powerful tool to have if you need them.
Start Near Your Senior’s Home and Branch Out in Your Search
Instead of heading out far and wide in your search, start out close to where your senior disappeared. He may not have covered nearly as much ground as you expect, so you might catch up with his on foot. If he’s been gone for more than a few minutes already, though, you might want the car so that when you find him, you’ll be able to drive him safely back home.
Elder care providers can be incredibly helpful if your senior is showing signs of wandering. They can give you tips on securing your senior’s home and helping him to feel less as if wandering is necessary for him to do.