Although memory loss can be difficult to deal with, one of the more concerning Alzheimer’s symptoms is wandering. Amidst their confusion, people with Alzheimer’s may wander away from their home, or caregivers due to excess energy, to try and locate the past, or simply to try and perform an old habit. For example, many families find people with Alzheimer’s symptoms walking to an old job, where their failing memory perceives a responsibility to uphold.
These five tips can help family members and homecare providers manage wandering in people with Alzheimer’s to reduce worry and risk of injury:
1. Relocate Door Locks: Consider moving door locks higher or lower on the door itself, or using child-proofing devices to make it more difficult for a person with Alzheimer’s symptoms to exit the house. Work with homecare to make notes about special locking systems in their homecare system.
2. Install door bells or buzzers for unexpected exits: Just as door buzzers alert a store clerk when you enter their shop, the same kind of buzzer, or simple jingle bells hung on a door, can alert you that a person with Alzheimer’s is trying to exit the house and give you time to respond before they wander into an unsafe situation. Ask your homecare provider to make a note in their homecare software or homecare system, like ClearCare, that a door alert system is always in use.
3. Ensure that identification is on the person: Putting adequate identification in the clothing of someone with Alzheimer’s symptoms will increase their chances of being safely reunited with their caregivers in instances of wandering. A medical alert bracelet with their name and caregiver contact information is easily seen by others and less likely to be lost than identification carried in a pocket. Request a task in your homecare provider’s homecare system to ensure that identification is on your loved one.
4. Reduce triggers for wandering: Items such as car keys, handbags, coats or reminders of old jobs may increase the urge to wander in someone with Alzheimer’s symptoms. Keep these items out of sight and be sure to ask your homecare provider to log notes of wandering triggers in their homecare system, such as ClearCare, to keep caregivers aware of trigger items.
5. Provide outlets for energy: Many cases of wandering seem spurred by excess energy or an effort to find purpose. Ensure that people with Alzheimer’s symptoms take part in appropriate activity, such as a stroll with a caregiver, and feel purpose by keeping them involved in household work like folding laundry. Work with your homecare provider to log activities in their homecare system where you can easily track positive stimulation that burns excess energy.