Wandering is a common behavior for seniors with dementia. Statistics record that one out of six individuals with dementia will wander, and often, it becomes an ongoing issue that happens repeatedly.
Seniors are susceptible to becoming lost because they may become further disoriented while wandering. They may be unable to remember their name, current address or family members' names. It isn't uncommon for a senior in advanced stages of dementia to be unable or unwilling to ask for and accept help due to anxiety and confusion.
Family members and caregivers regularly struggle with the worry that their loved one may suffer a fall or wander into a dangerous location such as a busy road or body of water. Though there isn't one set answer for dealing with wandering, understanding potential causes and planning ahead can help keep seniors safe and give their families a greater sense of peace.
Many times wandering is triggered by discomfort. If a senior needs the bathroom, is hungry or feels pain, they may struggle to understand what is wrong and start searching for an answer. Individuals with dementia may also recall an old schedule and attempt to complete an action at a specific time such as going to work a former job or going outside to walk a pet they once had.
A few measures families can take to reduce these situations include
• Planning frequent small meals and snacks to prevent hunger
• Determining the individual's typical toileting routines and monitoring them for constipation and bladder infections
• Keeping keys, hats, shoes or coats that are used when going somewhere out of sight
• Establishing a new routine in place of an old one, such as asking them to help fold laundry at the time they always left to pick up their children from school
Other measures that can prove effective in preventing wandering might require some modifications to the senior's surroundings and home. If the individual with dementia frequently attempts to go outside and becomes agitated when they are stopped, family members can try hiding the door itself to prevent the behavior.
This can be done by installing sliding curtains and screens that can be opened when necessary. Alternatively, caregivers can try painting the door to match the surrounding walls. Stenciled art and vinyl decals can also be added to the door and the wall around it to make it harder to identify where the door and doorknob are.
Coping with dementia is hard for both the person with the diagnosis and their loved ones. At Autumn View Gardens, we know this firsthand by walking beside seniors and their families as they go through their own dementia journeys.
The Bible calls us to ease one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2), and it is both our privilege and joy to be able to live out this principle through our assisted living and memory care services in Creve Coeur, MO. Some of the ways that we can help include:
Our caregivers are carefully trained in matters unique to dementia, including how to manage behavioral issues and reduce anxiety. Our techniques are based on Teepa Snow's memory care philosophies, which focus on emphasizing positive outcomes and personal connections.
In addition to monitoring medications and chronic conditions, licensed nurses provide regular health assessments of each resident's overall health to ensure any changes are caught quickly and addressed.
Residents' rooms are equipped with a call system that connects them instantly to caregivers day and night. Exits are monitored, and safety protocols are in place regarding the management of exterior doors and residents leaving the building.
Our outdoor grounds are secured to give memory care residents the chance to safely relax in the fresh air and sunshine. A furnished patio provides a comfortable spot to enjoy social opportunities with other members of the community. Seniors can also take soothing strolls along walking paths that wind through scented flower gardens.
Off-site excursions can be stressful and tiring for seniors with dementia, so we bring therapists and podiatrists to them. These services help boost residents' health and comfort and can potentially lower the number of wandering incidents by treating underlying causes of pain and discomfort.
Fall-prevention programs, senior-friendly exercise classes and pet therapy visits are among the many enriching offerings on our daily activity calendar here in Autumn View Gardens. Staff members gently encourage seniors to join in activities and provide mobility support and guidance as needed.
The decision to move into an assisted living community or remain at home is a difficult one, and the answer is different for each family. However, it's important for seniors and their caregivers to know they're not alone and that many things can be done to improve their happiness and quality of life.