In diseases that are particularly common in the elderly, such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia, patients wandering off is very common. Actually, out of every 10 patients with the diseases, 6 of them will be prone to wander. Due to the other symptoms of the disease such as disorientation and memory loss, elderly patients wandering with Dementia or Alzheimer’s can be very dangerous. Even when they are in a safe environment, nursing home elopement can happen.
Luckily, there are strategies and a range of services you can call upon to help you prevent it if possible, and deal with it if you don’t stop it in time.
Some great tips to prevent wandering, aside from staying diligent include:
- Provide a daily routine for your patient, this creates structure
- Keep track of the times you have caught them attempting to wander, you will likely see that it occurs at regular parts of the day. Keeping track of this will allow you to predict when they are most likely to wander. During these times, try to plan activities with the patient. The best activity? Let them wander, but walk with them, keeping them company but allowing them to decide the route.
- If the person feels lost or abandoned, which becomes apparent by the use of phrasing like “I want to go home”, don’t correct them. Instead explain to them that they are here to stay for the night and to get a good rest. Tell them they are safe and you are there with them.
- Keeping on top of the patient’s hygiene, food, hunger, and thirst are all important steps to keep them from getting agitated and wandering off.
- Place devices on all doors and windows that sound a silent alarm or page buzzers that the nurses wear. This way you know someone might be making a quiet escape.
- If the patient used to be able to drive, make sure you keep all car keys in the building secure. They may not remember they are not able to drive anymore, and this will never end well.
If you follow these tips, you should have a much better chance of preventing your loved ones from wandering. On top of this, it’s a great idea to make a plan for if they go missing.
This plan should include:
- Keep a list of people who you know you can call on in case of an emergency
- Let all neighbors know to call you straight away if they see your loved one outside alone
- Make sure you have a file with recent photos and information about the patient ready to give to the authorities
- Familiarize yourself with your neighborhood, make sure you know how to cover every inch in a search, a quickly as possible
Unfortunately, Dementia and Alzheimer’s are extremely common in the elderly. So wandering loved ones is a problem many of us are going to have to deal with. Hopefully, by sticking to the tips above, you should never have any serious problems.