Wandering can be a common issue for people living with dementia. Often families are having to make household changes to make things safe and secure for their loved one. Changes may include a door alarm system or extra locks on doors. It can be a stressful time for families. There are some early warning signs you may want to pay close attention to.
Your loved one may forget how to get to familiar places. This may even include places within their house such as the bedroom or bathroom.
A walk outside may take longer than usual.
Talks about wanting to go "home" or going to work.
Your loved one is up often in the middle of the night and walks around the house not completing any one task.
Talks about family or friends who may have already passed away. Example mom or dad, grandma or grandpa.
These will be important signs to tune into as the disease progresses. As cold weather hits, some may think that the winter weather will keep a loved one inside. However, someone living with dementia struggles to have a concept of time which also means difficulty tracking change of seasons even if there is snow on the ground. Besides looking out for early signs of wandering, there are ways you can help lower risk factors for wandering.
Keep a routine of daily activities so your loved can anticipate the next step and stay busy throughout the day. Like Meadowview, even though our activities may change day-to-day, our activity schedule is consistent so that they start programs the same time each morning, have breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks the same time each day, and end the activity schedule each time every night.
Place locks out of sight. You might try adding an extra lock at the top of the door.
Install a door alarm system so it alerts when the door is opened.
Move your loved one to a secure community. MeadowView is a secure community for those living with dementia. Our community promotes freedom of movement, and consistent cognitive and physical engagement in a safe and secure environment. Making a transition to community like Meadowview can reduce caregiver stress and offer peace of mind that your loved one is safe and engaged in a daily routine.
If you have questions regarding dementia and safety, contact MeadowView's very own Certified Dementia Practitioner, Danielle Helgerson at 319-540-4787.