62 year old Susan, was on her way to the office and stopped by her father’s house to check in and give him his breakfast. This is part of Susan’s daily routine since Dad lives alone after mom’s passing. But this time when she arrived, he wasn’t in the house. He has dementia and doesn’t drive so Susan frantically called 911. Her father had been found a few miles away in someone’s yard and very confused at about 3am during the night. Wandering is an unfortunate reality for some that suffer from dementia. Dementia affects a person’s memory and ability to communicate, making it impossible for them to explain or even remember events.
Why Do They Wander?
There isn’t an exact explanation of why people with dementia wander about. Here are a few reasons that could explain the behavior:
Remembering the Past
Dementia can leave a person in a state of confusion and make them wander off to search for something or someone from their past. This could be their childhood home, a lost friend, or a deceased partner.
Emotions such as anxiety and restlessness can lead to agitation. A person in an agitated state can pace around and wander off without any reason. They could fail to recognize their own home and leave.
People with dementia can suffer from delirium and when it’s met by insomnia, they can confuse night for day and vice versa. They might decide to go for a walk and travel long distances. Declining hearing and eyesight may cause distress at night due to shadows and darkness.
A Sense of “Purpose”
A person with dementia can start to wander because they feel that they have a job to do. This may be because of their past job that consists of going to work all morning and returning home later in the day.
Blurring Line Between Dreaming and Reality
Vivid dreams produce clear and strong scenarios which can leave you feeling exhausted upon waking up. People with dementia suffer from its effects a lot more especially when it’s met with confusion. They might not be able to differentiate between dreams and reality, which causes them to respond to dreams as if it’s reality.
What Can Be Done to Help
Nothing stops a person with dementia from wandering but there are things you can do to lessen the risk of harm and accidents. Keep in mind that even when you’re trying to keep your loved one safe, you shouldn’t be taking away their freedom and independence.
In-home Senior Care Could Greatly Benefit You and Your Elderly Loved One
Taking care of a person or a loved one with dementia may be challenging but people or loved ones with dementia should always feel safe and secure. Dementia is a neurodegenerative disease that a lot of seniors (commonly) over the age of 65 struggle with. Having dementia doesn’t mean one’s quality of life should lower as well.
Caregivers can provide security and safety to your elderly loved ones without worrying about the quality of care that they’re receiving. Caregivers provide a range of services to give their clients utmost comfort such as monitoring their diet, medicine, appointments, and most importantly companionship—all services done with compassion and patience to give your loved one a peaceful environment.
Ensure that the person has some form of identification in case they wander too far and get lost. An identity bracelet that contains their name, full address, and contact number can be useful in these cases.
Keep Track of Patterns
It’s a good idea to keep a diary of the person’s behavior—especially the places that they would frequent when they wander. You should also keep track of when it happens so you’ll have an idea of what triggers these episodes.
Purchasing alarms can be pretty useful. It can notify you when the person decides to wander out of the house. This will notify you quickly so you can prevent them from wandering far from your home.
Speak to a Medical Professional
A physical check-up will assist detect whether disease, pain, or discomfort has provoked the wandering. With the doctor, go over the adverse effects of any medication. Avoid using any medications that could make the person more confused, drowsy, or even incontinent.
Give Them a Safe Space
Giving the person with dementia a safe space to walk around (such as a garden or a secure backyard) can lessen the chance of them wandering outside and getting lost.
Unified Pledge Home Health provides a FREE consultation where you can ask questions and learn more about their services.
A registered nurse from a reputable home health agency will also perform a complementary in-home care assessment. With this assessment, you can decide what assistance you or your loved one may prefer.
Hiring professionals from Unified Pledge comes with the following advantages:
Level II FBI background checks of all staff
Driving history checks
Companions, health aides, LPNs are our direct employees and not independent contractors
Constant communication to patients, family, and care team
Registered Nurse supervision is ongoing with every care plan