When an aging loved one is diagnosed with dementia it can be a real game changer for the entire family. Seniors that live with dementia oftentimes exhibit unusual behaviors that interfere with their daily activities, like wandering off. If you’re an informal caregiver for a senior with dementia once they start to wander it creates unique safety challenges. Here are some wandering prevention tips so you can sleep better at night knowing that your loved one is safe.
Why Seniors with Dementia Wander Off
It’s not uncommon for someone with dementia to walk off in a random direction when it’s least expected. Seniors that are prone to wandering tend to do so for these reasons:
- They’re hungry. Experiencing late night hunger pangs is one trigger that might cause a senior to wander off.
- They’re in pain. Discomfort makes it hard to relax, so your loved one may be walking around to decompress.
- They’re going to the bathroom. Another late-night wandering trigger is an urgent need to use the bathroom.
- They’re confused about time. Seniors with dementia sometimes suddenly start living in the past and forget what day or year it is. As a result, they may think that it’s time to leave the house and head to work or an appointment.
- They’re experiencing hallucinations. Notably during the later stages of dementia, psychosis can occur. The resulting hallucinations are sometimes so terrifying that it causes the person to flee the home.
If changes aren’t made your loved one’s persistent wandering can place them at risk and threaten their independence.
How to Address Wandering Triggers
The key to reducing the likelihood of a wandering episode is addressing the triggers that are causing the behavior in the first place. Here are some approaches to include in your wandering prevention strategy:
Identify their triggers
Look for wandering triggers that might make your senior feel lost, confused or scared. For example, Sundown Syndrome can trigger strange behaviors once the sun starts setting. Or, if your loved one has a tendency to wander off right after going to bed, they could be hungry.
Stick to a routine
Following a strict routine is important for someone with dementia because their long-term memory is better than their short-term memory. Sticking to a schedule will provide much-needed structure that helps eliminate time confusion and other triggers. If hunger is causing your senior to wander at night, try feeding them several light snacks during the day- including one right before bedtime.
Avoid crowded places
Seniors with dementia can get easily distracted if something or someone catches their eye. If your loved one tends to wander off in noisy, crowded environments avoid busy places like ballgames, malls and grocery stores.
Install door locks and alarms
Whenever you are at home with your loved one be sure to keep all the windows and doors locked. Install the locks in nontraditional places where they can’t find them. You can even install a home alarm system that notifies you when a door or window has been opened. Placing a sensor pad in their bed is another way to alert you if they get up in the middle of the night.
Key an eye on them
Never leave your senior alone in a car, park or building- even in a familiar place. You may think that your loved one is secured but someone with dementia that’s frightened or feeling distressed can be quite creative in finding ways to escape.
Be sure to provide close supervision so that you can reassure your senior if they start acting uncomfortable or agitated due to their surroundings.
Reliable In-Home Dementia Care for Florida Seniors
Caring for an elderly loved one with dementia is a labor of love, but it can also be challenging and stressful. When you need a break contact First In Care. As a fully licensed home care agency our highly trained caregivers know how to keep seniors with dementia safe and comfortable right where they want to be. Our compassionate professionals use a unique caregiving approach that’s designed to maintain your loved one’s dignity, self-esteem and independence.
In addition to dementia care, our senior care services include companionship care, respite care, medication reminders, personal care, transportation and even 24-hour care. For your added convenience and peace of mind we offer flexible programs and affordable rates for aging in place seniors in Manatee County, FL. To learn more about First In Care now please visit us at: www.firstincare.com!