Looking after an elderly mom or dad is hard enough when they are only struggling with physical health problems, but when they are battling dementia, it becomes even more difficult. Family caregivers must prepare for an extremely frustrating, sad, and serious time ahead as they plan for in-home care for their elderly parent. One of the biggest challenges in caring for seniors with dementia is to prevent wandering.
Reasons Why Aging Adults with Dementia Wander.
With dementia, a person’s brain gets mixed up on certain timelines, generally mixing up events of the past with events of the present. In most cases, this confusion results in anxiety as the senior knows something is not right and strives to solve problems that don’t really exist. Often this means a strong desire to return to places where they feel comfortable or acting out past routines.
Examples of displaced motivations might include the need to go to their childhood home, meet someone for an appointment or gather children from school. Even though the events are not real in the present, the aging adult believes they are and has a strong desire to get going. As they wander, they get lost and even more disoriented. If they are not being watched by a family caregiver or home care provider, they can endanger themselves by wandering away.
Ways to Prevent Wandering in Seniors with Dementia.
It’s important for family caregivers and home care providers to communicate about what to do about wandering. As a team, everyone can implement and follow certain rules when it comes to caring for the aging adult. By implementing these good habits, seniors with dementia are less likely to wander and cause problems or danger to themselves.
These are just a few tips and good habits that everyone can adopt to reduce the likelihood of an aging adult with dementia to escape.
- Always accompany the aging adult, whether it’s the family caregiver, home care provider, friend, or other relative. They shouldn’t be alone as that can heighten their anxiety and move them closer to fear and panic.
- Put on a tracking device, often designed to locate wandering seniors. Some come with sensors that sound off if the person has moved too far away from the base sensor.
- Keep the aging adult engaged, active, and mentally challenged as much as possible to distract them from thoughts that might prompt them to think they need to leave.
- Place locks on all doors that lead outside and check them several times per day. Usually they are better when placed out of the eyesight of the senior with dementia, so high up or low down are often best and most effective.
- Redirect them to a different activity if they become obsessed with a certain line of thinking. Sometimes, a promise that puts off action is sufficient while others may need a full distraction to break them of the anxiety cycle.
Seniors who wander can get into serious trouble, so family caregivers must look ahead and think of ways to keep them safe inside without confusing them even more.