If your loved one is suffering from dementia, you may notice that they have been returning from drives or walks later than usual. They may even forget how to get to familiar places, like their home or the park. For people who are living with memory-related disorders like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, accidentally wandering away and getting lost is a major concern.
According to a study conducted by the Alzheimer’s Association, about 60 percent of people living with dementia will wander. Even if it has never happened before, there is a chance it can happen as long as aging adults have these conditions. Dementia wandering can be extremely dangerous, so it is important to understand the causes of dementia wandering to try to keep your loved ones safe if they have the tendency to wander.
What are the Causes of Dementia Wandering?
There are several reasons why people with memory-related conditions wander, including:
- They are experiencing stress or fear: If older adults find that they are in an unfamiliar environment, or if the environment is too noisy and overstimulating, they may become confused and disoriented and wander.
- They are in search of something: If they are looking for something or someone, those with dementia may wander and get lost.
- They are trying to fulfill basic needs: If they are trying to find a bathroom or food or are just trying to get a breather somewhere else, they may wander.
- They are bored: They could be feeling very bored and trying to look for something to do and occupy themselves with.
- They follow old routines: Your loved one may be remembering their daily actions in the past. So, they may be just following their past routines. For example, although they may have retired for some time, they may be following their past work route.
- They experience vision or spatial awareness issues: When they start to suffer from visual-spatial problems, they may also accidentally wander off. This is because dementia affects parts of the brain that help guide vision and navigation, so they may get lost when these areas deteriorate.
How to Reduce or Prevent Dementia Wandering
It is important to do things to prevent dementia wandering in your loved one as they could end up in very risky situations. Here are some ways you can prevent your loved one from dementia wandering:
Install locks and alarms: To prevent wandering, it is important to make it difficult for someone with a memory disorder to get outside the house. You can consider house modifications like installing window and door alarms to alert you when opened.
Understanding and solving triggers for dementia wandering: You could also try to identify what triggers wandering behavior in your loved one. Every time it happens, you should record it down and over time, you may discover a pattern, such as wandering when they are bored, hungry, or in search of the bathroom.
Camouflage doors that lead to the outside world: You can also discourage your loved one from going out by camouflaging doors as they may not be able to find it and open it if you cover it up or hide it.
Enroll them in a memory care community: Memory care communities are monitored round the clock and have professional caregivers that are able to deal with those that have memory-related conditions.
If your loved one is dealing with a memory-related condition and has the tendency to wander, then you can consider enrolling them in memory care communities. At TerraBella Southern Pines, we have a team of senior living professionals who is well-equipped to handle those with memory loss. Furthermore, our community is monitored round the clock to ensure that residents are always safe. Feel free to contact us to find out more about our memory care community today!