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How to Keep Someone with Dementia from Wandering

Senior couple talking with caregiver

Acting as a caregiver to someone living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia isn’t easy. As you know, symptoms associated with these conditions can cause various unpredictable issues. When older adults living with dementia become confused, anxious or worried, they’re at risk of wandering. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly 6 in 10 individuals living with Alzheimer’s will wander at some point in their journey.

How can you, as a caregiver, prevent wandering? Wandering isn’t always preventable, and you can’t keep an eye on your loved one 24/7. So, you have to be smart about finding ways to prevent wandering and keep your loved one safe and sound if they do roam.

Top Ways to Prevent Wandering Behavior in a Loved One

Eliminating the risk of wandering altogether isn’t possible for someone living with Alzheimer’s. However, you can take precautions to prevent your loved one from roaming and keep them safe in their environment.

Ways to make the home safer:

  • Install door locks. Specialized locks and tracking devices can be installed on doors, windows and gates. If an older adult does try to wander, it will be difficult for them to leave.
  • Install video or wandering alarms. There are many options for video alarms that will alert caregivers if a loved one is attempting to roam.
  • Provide a safe space. If possible, make some adjustments to your family member’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.
  • 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.
  • Camouflage 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.
  • Hide keys, wallets and purses. Make it as difficult as possible for someone with dementia to roam by hiding easily accessible car keys and wallets.

Ways to be proactive about wandering:

  • Look for 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 someone before they have the chance to wander.
  • Alert neighbors and authorities. If someone living with dementia one has wandered before, it’s a good idea to notify your neighbors and local law enforcement there’s a possibility it will happen again.
  • Be prepared. It’s not easy to plan for your family member to wander, but it’s important. Snap a photo of them each day, so you have an up-to-date picture of the clothing they’re currently wearing.
  • Always have medical identification. If you have concerns that your aging parent might wander, create a necklace or bracelet for them to wear with medical identification information and your contact information.

What Causes Wandering?

Since everyone’s experience living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia is unique, it can sometimes be challenging to pinpoint the cause of wandering. Below are just a few of the many reasons someone with dementia might feel the urge to roam:

  • Stress
  • Fear and anxiety
  • Boredom
  • Desire to live out familiar routines
  • Searching for something

If your loved one wanders, it’s best to talk to them so you can identify patterns in their behavior or thought processes to help you prevent episodes of roaming in the future.

Supportive Care and Support When Someone You Care About Needs Help

Monticello West is known for being the go-to memory care community in Park Cities, Texas. We’re proud to offer a supportive, caring alternative to aging in place and offer residents a tight-knit community.

We understand the pressure on caregivers like yourself. We do everything we can to provide you with the peace of mind for your family member is participating in memory care activities, living in a safe apartment, and receiving the highest level of care from our professional caregivers and licensed nurses.

Learn more about our dynamic memory care community in Texas and schedule a visit to experience all Monticello West has to offer.