Providing a comfortable and safe home environment for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia is key to improving the person’s emotional and physical wellbeing. This goal can be challenging, especially for those families who have a loved one who wanders due to dementia. The Phoenix senior care team at Nightingale Homecare understands firsthand how difficult it can be to effectively manage behaviors such as wandering, and is here to help!
An individual with dementia is likely to wander at some point during the disease – as many as three out of every four patients, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. This is an incredibly stressful behavior for loved ones to deal with because of the safety implications associated with wandering.
The first approach to dealing with wandering is to identify the reason behind the wandering. There may be a number of causes, including:
- Medication side effects
- Confusion related to time
- Inability to recognize familiar people, places and objects
- Fear arising from the misinterpretation of sights and sounds
- Desire to fulfill former obligations, such as going to work or looking after a child
There are some things you can do to reduce wandering in your loved one:
- Encourage movement and exercise. This tends to reduce anxiety, agitation and restlessness and can have a dramatic effect on wandering.
- Involve your loved one in productive daily activities such as folding laundry or preparing dinner. This can keep your loved one occupied and provide opportunity for meaningful tasks.
- Remind your loved one he is in the right place and reassure him if he articulates feelings that he may be lost, abandoned, or disoriented. This kind of reassurance from a trusted loved one or caregiver can be invaluable in calming your loved one and preventing wandering behavior.
If you continue to notice wandering behaviors, there are some things you can do to protect your loved one:
- Enroll your loved one in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return program.
- Notify all your neighbors of your loved one’s condition and keep a list of their names and phone numbers.
- Keep your home safe and secure by installing deadbolt locks on exterior doors and limiting access to potentially dangerous areas of your home.
- Be mindful that your loved one may not only wander by foot but also by other modes of transportation, so limit access to cars or other transportation.
- Be sure and keep a list of emergency phone numbers and addresses of the local police and fire departments, hospitals and poison control as well as the Safe Return help line.
Although it may seem overwhelming to proactively address any potential hazards, in the long run, it’s well worth it to know that your loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia is safe. And you don’t have to figure it all out alone! The staff of Nightingale Homecare is uniquely qualified to provide Alzheimer’s, dementia and memory loss care through our Connections program, using the unique approach taught by Dr. Verna Benner-Carson through her “Alzheimer’s Whisperer®” methods. Alzheimer’s Whisperers enter the client’s world and manage the challenging behaviors associated with dementia in a way that is gentle, creative and highly effective. These skills are not only practiced and known by our trained caregivers, but also taught to the families of our dementia clients by the clinical staff of Nightingale Homecare.
Contact the Phoenix senior care experts, Nightingale Homecare, at (602) 504-1555 for more helpful tips to make life safer and more comfortable for your loved one with dementia, or for professional, compassionate, hands-on assistance with all of his or her care needs.