Wandering is a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease that many caregivers are familiar with. Your loved one wanders because they feel afraid, confused, and unsure of where they are. These incidents can be very stressful for caregivers and other family members. While you cannot completely stop this behavior, you can make your loved one more safe. Here are some tips for dealing with wandering.
Allow some space for wandering. Let your loved one satisfy their urge to explore safely. Set aside an area of your home or your yard where they can go without getting hurt. This may be enough to keep them from taking more dangerous trips.
Use signs. Signs with some sort of visual cue can help remind your loved one where they are. You may want to try a “Stop” sign on the front door to make it clear that they should go no further. Or put signs on the door to each room indicating what that room is for. You could put a picture of a blender at the entrance to the kitchen or a cartoon of a person sleeping in bed on the bedroom door.
Camouflage the exits. Your loved one can’t leave the house if they don’t know where the exits are. If your doors and your curtains are the same color as your walls, they’ll blend in and your loved one will have a harder time locating them.
Use locks and alarms designed to prevent wandering. There are many products out there designed to help caregivers address the issue of wandering. There are locks that you can install on entrances that are too complex for an Alzheimer sufferer to open. You can also buy alarms that sound when someone opens a door, steps on a mat, or enters a certain area.
Think about what causes the wandering. Is there some sort of pattern to your loved one’s behavior? Maybe they tend to wander at the same time each day? If that’s the case, figure out some way to eliminate the trigger or stop it from causing the unwanted behavior. If your loved one tends to wander at sundown, which is very common, come up with activities that will distract them during this time of day.
Talk to your neighbors. If your neighbors know that your loved one has a problem with wandering, they can help you be on the lookout. This way they’ll be more likely to call you as soon as they see them, rather than assume everything’s OK.