Community Blog

5 Safety Tips for Those with Wandering Tendencies for National Safe at Home Week

By Vicki and Brian Day

Home Care in Bath PA

Wandering tendencies can be some of the most frightening and dangerous of symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. A senior who wanders is at high risk of serious issues including getting lost or injured. With approximately 60 percent of elderly adults who are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease eventually developing wandering tendencies, it is likely that if you are caring for a parent who is suffering from this disease you will encounter this issue at some point in your care journey.

August 22 through 25 is National Safe at Home Week. This is a fantastic time for you to evaluate the safety measures that you have in place for your aging parent and make any changes that may be necessary to help keep them safer and more secure as they continue to progress through their disease.

Use these tips to help keep a senior with wandering tendencies safer:

Note their patterns. While it is not always consistent, most seniors who wander develop patterns to their wandering behavior. This is because wandering is often a result of compulsions or needs that the senior cannot properly express, such as thinking that they need to get to work. If you can identify these patterns it is easier for you to monitor your parent and ensure that they have the care that they need during the times when they are most likely to wander.

Use layered security. You cannot just think of locks when you are considering the safety and security needs of an elderly adult who wanders. It is vital that you utilize a layered approach to minimize the chances that they will simply move through them. Create this layered approach by using multiple locks on doors, locking windows and securing them with dowels, and implementing an alarm system.

Add a gate. The more barriers that are in your parent's way, the less likely they are to get away from the home undetected. If possible, add a locking gate to the property so that even if your parent does make it out of the home, they must still contend with the gate to get further away.

Use GPS. From shoes to watches to pendants, wearable GPS systems have advanced well beyond their original incarnations. Encourage your parent to wear such a device at all times. This will ensure that if they do wander, you will be more likely to be able to find them quickly. Many of these systems also feature a program that will alert you in the event that your parent wanders out of a specified area. This will allow you to respond quickly and get them back home faster.

Schedule check-ins. If you are not able to be in the home with your parent, schedule check-ins at regular intervals throughout the day. Whether by phone call, video chat, or through a two-way security camera, checking in with your parent allows you to make sure that they are at home safely and determine if they have any unmet needs you should address.

If your aging parent has begun to exhibit wandering tendencies and you are concerned for their safety, home care may be the ideal choice for giving you peace of mind and ensuring that your parent stays safe. An in-home senior care services provider can be in the home with your aging loved one as often as is appropriate for their needs and provide a personalized approach to care and support tailored to managing their needs while also encouraging as much independence and autonomy as possible as they age in place.