Managing the Wanderer

If you care for someone with Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia, you have a 60% chance of having to deal with your loved one’s wandering behavior. Those are pretty high odds and especially frightening for a caregiver. Let’s face it, you can’t be with someone every minute of every day and wandering may be impossible to prevent in all cases. Take heart because there are practical steps you can take to minimize the dangers.

First and foremost, make sure the home environment is secure. Be certain there are secure locks on the windows and all the exterior doors. A keyed deadbolt lock that’s placed up high or down low on the door may be out of your loved one’s line of vision and less noticeable. Hanging bells on the door will alert you if someone is trying to get out. Disguising the door by painting it the same color as the wall may serve to camouflage it and deter the instinct to go through the doorway. Hanging a “STOP” sign on the door can help bring out the long ingrained response of actually stopping. If your loved one gets confused in their search for a specific room like the bathroom or bedroom, it may help to hang a picture on the door of what’s behind the door.

Try to keep any visual reminders of traveling out of sight. Don’t leave car keys, shoes, and jackets, purses, or anything that may remind your loved one of going somewhere, in plain view. Pressure sensitive alarm mats can be placed in front of doors to alert you if someone tries to leave. These are also great placed beside a bed to let you know if your loved one gets up at night. Baby monitors throughout the house can help you keep track of your loved one when you’re in a different room.

Although it does involve some expense, fencing your yard is a good idea. Make sure there are locks on the gates and any outside paths shouldn’t lead right to the gates. This may actually provide a safe place for your loved one to fulfill that need to wander. It’s also a good idea to let your neighbors know about the wandering. The extra eyes and ears will be priceless if your loved one gets out. Sewing your loved one’s name and phone number in some inconspicuous spot on their clothing will help identify them if they get lost and someone tries to guide them back. A combination of these measures will go a long way toward keeping your wanderer safe but if they do get away, call the police IMMEDIATELY. What measures have helped you keep your wandering loved one safe? Share below and visit us at


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Filed under Aging in Place, Alzheimer's, Caregiver, Home Care, Senior Care, Trillium HomeCare

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