The potential dangers of wandering residents can have permanent, catastrophic effects. High risk residents or patients, like those in dementia or memory care units, wander for a variety of reasons. Sometimes due to confusion, sometimes looking for something or someone, or sometimes because they are just plain lost. Wandering residents can find themselves in unsafe areas of a facility or eloping from the building entirely unnoticed. Knowing how to reduce the risks for wandering patients can help ensure their safety.
Who’s at Risk for Wandering?
Anyone living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is at risk for wandering. Understanding the common signs of wandering can help caretakers or family members prevent it. Some of the common signs a person may be at risk for wandering include:
- Forgetting how to get to familiar places
- Talking about fulfilling former obligations, for example: going to work
- Trying to “go home” even when at home
- Becoming restless or pacing
- Difficulty locating familiar places, for example: the bathroom, bedroom, or dining room
- Appearing lost in a new or changed environment
- Becoming nervous or anxious in crowded areas
Reduce the Risk of Wandering
Preventing and reducing the risk of wandering is always a multi-layered process, but these actions can help bring peace of mind to caregivers and family members.
- Provide a routine of structured, meaningful activities throughout the day.
- Identify the time of day the person is most likely to wander and plan things to do during this time – activities and exercise may help reduce anxiety, agitation, and restlessness.
- Reduce liquids up to two hours before bedtime so the person doesn’t have to find the bathroom during the night.
- If the person is no longer driving, remove access to car keys as the person could forget they can no longer drive.
- Assess the person’s response to new surroundings. Do not leave someone with dementia unsupervised if new surroundings may cause confusion, disorientation, or agitation.
- Identify a companion for the person living with dementia if the caretaker is not available.
How to Take Action
Having a plan before wandering occurs can help relieve some of the stress experienced by family and caregivers and ensure the safety of the person living with dementia. Here are some tips for creating a wander management plan:
- Ask neighbors, friends, and family to call if they see the person wandering or lost.
- Identify potentially dangerous areas around the neighborhood, such as bodies of water, open stairwells, tunnels, bus stops, and heavily trafficked roads.
- Create a list of places the person might wander to, such as past jobs, former homes, or favorite places.
- Start search efforts immediately if the person goes missing and begin by looking in the surrounding vicinity as individuals who wander are typically found within 1.5 miles of where they disappeared.
Installing a wandering resident security system can’t prevent every potential wandering scenario, but it should absolutely be a key component of any wander prevention program. Wander management technology from Secure Care allows facilities and hospitals to monitor wandering residents, secure or lock exits, and track the exact location of patients who are prone to wandering.
About Secure Care Products, LLC
For over 40 years, Secure Care Products has been committed to providing improved safety, security, and locating solutions through best-in-class service and innovative design for your most valuable assets. Protecting people and assets is our business. Secure Care products offers a suite of products including RTLS, wander management, infant protection, asset management, and mobile app solutions. All products are researched, developed, and manufactured in the USA, which ensures superior service, timely delivery, and quality assurance. Using state-of-the-art, advanced technologies, we keep people and assets protected 24/7. Let us know how we can help you by calling 1.800.451.7917 or contact us.