Often, as people age, and dementia creeps in, a symptom is wandering. The person often does not feel as if they are at “home,” and they are “searching” for surroundings that feel more familiar. If they are in their own home, and you want to keep them safe, there are options that can be initiated.
- Purchase a personal emergency response button with GPS. This can be worn around the neck or as a wristwatch. The hurdle can often be that the person does not want to wear the apparatus on their body. However, if you can convince them to do so, it can be very effective if the person happens to wander, because you will know where they are.
- Buy insoles with GPS to put in their shoes. This can work well if the person tends to wear the same shoes every day or they are being assisted with dressing, so they don’t necessarily choose their own shoes.
- Monitor with technology. In today’s world, there are cameras, sensors, and alarms that will alert caregivers and family members to a wandering person. (Just make sure that securing the home doesn’t make it feel like a prison.)
- Add safety features. Certain safety features can be placed on doors, such as handles that make them difficult to open. They are similar to an apparatus used when young, curious children are in the home. In turn, the person with dementia can’t “figure this out.”
- Hire a caregiver. If a person is living in their home, sometimes a caregiver needs to be hired to monitor them constantly when none of the above options are feasible. This is a very expensive option, but often necessary.
- Consider Assisted Living. If the above options have been tried and don’t work, or they’re not applicable considering the situation for a myriad of reasons, often families choose assisted living. They must choose a community that is locked so that their loved one cannot escape into other parts of the building or outside. Yes, if he or she wanders, they may still wander within the building, and that can present issues with the other residents. It takes commitment and attention on the part of the staff to know the whereabouts of the person who wanders and be ready and willing to redirect them at all hours – day and night. (Unfortunately, yes, people with dementia often wander at night as that is when they can be the most confused.)
For the last decade, Amy Hane has been committed to serving the CSRA community by guiding those going through mental, physical and social issues related to caring for an aging or disabled loved one. She assists families with transitions to higher quality care for the safety and wellbeing of all involved.
Amy holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of South Carolina, is a licensed Master Social Worker in South Carolina and Georgia, an Advanced Professional Aging Life Care Manager and also a Certified Advanced Social Work Case Manager.