As the weather warms up, we all look forward to getting outdoors more often. It’s a great time of year and who doesn’t enjoy taking a short walk and feeling a cool breeze on your face?
What this time of year also brings are more open windows and unlatched screen doors. While it freshens up the room it can also make a home less secure. And, for individuals with dementia, these relaxed conditions also present an invitation to open the door, walk out and wander off the grounds. That’s when the danger begins.
We hear often from adult children of moms and dads with dementia about their concerns when a parent begins wandering. You may have even received mobile alerts when an elderly person has left their home and is wandering in your area.
There is good reason for concern. These vulnerable individuals are a walking target for theft and other dangers without the presence of a loved one to protect them and guide them back home.
Here are some tips to help safeguard your loved one against the dangers of wandering:
- Register your loved one in the Alzheimer’s Safe Return program. This is a 24-hour emergency service. You can access the link here.
- Re-key your home with new, secure locks and bolts. It may have become too easy to disable older locks. If possible, have them located either high up or low down where they are not easily seen.
- Make sure your loved one always has identification with them. Whether it is in the form of a bracelet or necklace, this is a necessity for any elder, especially one known to wander. It should include, not only a phone number and key medical information but a note “memory impaired. Some family caregivers find it helpful to print a small card with instructions, such as “Call home xxx-xxxx” with your phone number. It can be laminated and kept in the pocket of your loved one.
- Enlist the help of neighbors. When neighbors know you have a loved one who wanders they can be of great help in alerting you and even guiding your loved one back home again. Make sure they are prepped with information to help them handle the situation properly and avoid unnecessary issues.
- Make sure your loved one gets exercise. Regular exercise brings many benefits. Among them is the reduction of stress and a sense of relaxation and calm. Making sure your loved one gets plenty of exercise can calm the nerves and help lessen the potential for behaviors emanating from nervous frustration, including wandering.
Now is also the time to begin looking into memory care communities. Ideally they should provide plenty of safe open spaces, both indoors and out. Our Anthem Memory Care communities, for example, have been specially built to optimize the experience for those living with dementia.
Providing your loved one with an environment that is calibrated to serve individuals with memory loss helps them live their best lives. A good memory care community helps your parent to continue to enjoy purposeful activities led by trained professionals who have a passion to serve and treat them with the respect they deserve.
Now is the time to begin the process of researching and evaluating memory care communities. The longer you wait, the more challenging the transition can become.
We encourage you to reach out to us. We’ll be glad to answer your questions and provide additional resources. We’re always here to help!