Caring for a senior parent who suffers from Alzheimer's or another form of dementia is a lot of hard work. A major source of anxiety is the thought that their decline in cognitive function can cause them to leave the safety of their caregiver, otherwise known as wandering. Although it is a scary thought, there is much that you as a caregiver can do to keep your dear one safe. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Wandering can happen even in the early stages of dementia so it is best to prepare as soon as possible. Adding motion detectors with audible alerts or installing an alarm in the home as soon as you get a diagnosis would not at all be premature.
- Seniors often want to leave the home for a specific reason, not just curiosity. So pay attention to signs like Mom or Dad forgetting where to find the bathroom or another common area, talking about caring for past duties like going to work, or asking to go home if they are already in their home.
- Daily structure can help your loved ones to recognize the responsibilities they have at home, taking their mind off of leaving to 'go to work'. Physical activity might also deter nighttime wandering due to restlessness.
- Despite your many efforts, your parent might eventually wander. So, before that happens, make sure neighbors know to call you if they see your parent alone. Also, consider getting ID jewelry or location devices.
- Have a list of places to check in case of wandering. In the event you have to use this list, take no more than a few minutes to check the nearby places. Before you continue looking, contact the police and provide a recent photo and a list of medical concerns.
Hopefully, you never have to go through the terror of your dear Mom or Dad wandering. These tips can certainly lessen the chances of it happening, or help you to get them back safely.
As you are learning to deal with the changes that aging can bring, be patient with yourself, patient with your loved one, seek advice and answers to questions, and remember you are not in this alone. Contact a Caring Senior Service team member today!