Wandering can be a tremendous problem for people with dementia. The first time that your senior wanders away could be the last if you put a plan together now.
Learn Her Signs and Triggers
Usually, people who are prone to wandering do so because of specific situations and triggers. That’s likely true for your senior, too. She may wander because she has a need that isn’t being met at the moment or because something is wrong. Once you start to recognize her triggers, you can also start to recognize the signs that she might be about to wander. For instance, she might become more agitated or start to repeat words and phrases before she wanders.
Put Together a Description and Keep Recent Pictures Handy
It really helps to have a good description and several recent pictures on hand, just in case. If your elderly family member does wander off and you have to form a search party, you’ll have the information you need ready to go. Hopefully, this is something you’ll never need, but it never hurts to be prepared.
Lock Doors and Windows
One easy deterrent to wandering is to make sure that windows and doors are locked. You might need to get creative with the locking mechanisms, too. Sometimes putting a latch higher up on the door where your senior might not think to look for it can be enough to keep the door closed and her safely inside.
Think about Using Alarms
Sometimes caregivers feel uncomfortable keeping doors and windows constantly locked or other family dynamics necessitate easy ingress and egress. If that’s the case, you might consider using door alarms. You can set them to make a loud noise when the door is opened so that you’re aware to check whether someone came in or left.
A GPS Locator Might Be a Good Idea
Another idea is to get a GPS locator for your senior. These are more and more common now and they can be as easy to wear as a watch or as a clip-on attachment for your senior’s sneaker. You can set up the locator on your smartphone so that you can easily track your senior’s movements. This can be handy for elder care providers to have access to as well.
The idea that your senior might wander off is likely justifiably terrifying, but some of these tips can help you to keep a better eye on where she is.