http://www.alzheimershope.com/symptoms_strategies/wandering.php Even though it is completely understandable to be scared and agitated when a loved one wanders away, it is very important to refrain from confronting them and badgering them. When a loved one wanders away a frantic confrontation will only make things worse. While it is certainly easy to say that one should not show fear or anger when a loved one wanders, putting that into practice is another matter. One of the most important things to keep in mind is not to lecture your loved one about wandering, in order to prevent an outburst. Alzheimer’s not only affects the memory, but may control that part of the brain which controls our behavior. Don’t increase the fright of your loved one, or the chance of an outburst, by lecturing them. When it comes to wandering, simply remember to try to remain calm. -Anthony B. FerraroWandering is one of the most dangerous and feared side effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia’s. Usually, the main reason for someone wandering is they are trying to find some place that is familiar to them. A problem with wandering is someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia may not realize they are doing dangerous acts, such as walking into traffic. The good news is that wandering can be prevented. The website below includes some resources you may find helpful for protecting your loved one from the dangers of wandering.
As with any “rescue” mission, you must make sure you are secure first. Can you help safely on your own? Are you strong enough? Is the injured person cooperative? The reason for these cautions is if you become injured, then perhaps neither of you would get the help you need. You should background yourself in techniques that you can use to help should a fall occur — whether it’s with a friend or relative, or someone who has Alzheimer’s or simply a frail, elderly individual who might need assistance. For example, gait belts are common tools to assist ambulation. These strong canvas straps are designed specifically for helping in these situations, among others. If your friend or loved one starts to go down when you are nearby, you can simply grab the belt to slow the tumble and lower the person to the floor. This softens the fall, but remember: You have to be careful not to injure yourself as well. Gait belts are commonly available for purchase through durable medical equipment companies, home care agencies and others. Once the person is down, if you can’t get her or him up and nobody else is around to assist you, CALL 911. There should be no embarrassment or concern about this. Most emergency responders are well trained in how to deal with people who have fallen, Alzheimer’s patients, people who wander or are choking, etc. They are more than willing to come into a home to assist you. They also can do an assessment of any possible injuries, and transport your friend or loved one to the hospital for proper review and treatment. The transportation piece for a disoriented or uncooperative patient can be especially helpful, rather than trying to do it alone. There are many accounts of caregivers calling 911 for help and getting it wonderfully. These families report being treated with full respect, concern and care, so call if you need help! Wander and falls management companies offer an array of alerting devices that can help a person call for help. These items can be worn like faux watches or necklaces so they blend right in. The wearer pushes a button and someone out of the area is summoned for help. The systems are plentiful and can be researched on the Internet. Dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer’s is a daunting task. There’s no need to tackle it alone, however. An excellent resource is “The Indispensable Alzheimer’s Resource Kit.” It can be downloaded at no cost by clicking here.
Wandering isn’t a universal symptom of Alzheimer’s but it definitely can be a concern. Unfortunately, you won’t know if your loved one is a wanderer until he or she wanders for the first time. Each person with dementia travels through this journey at his or her own pace. Upon diagnosis of the disease, immediately register your loved one in the “Safe Return” program with the Alzheimer’s Association. Contact the national organization (http://www.alz.org) or your local Alzheimer’s Association for information about the program and how to enroll. When you register, you will choose the form of jewelry you would like your loved one to wear. The jewelry (a bracelet, pendant or other item) has the Alzheimer’s Association logo on the front and the wearer’s identification number on the back. Most people choose the bracelet because it can be worn with, or like, a watch. Even individuals who did not wear jewelry in the past typically will agree to wear a bracelet. Many caregivers have overcome a loved one’s suspicions or reluctance about wearing this special jewelry by ordering a second piece for themselves. When the caregiver is seen wearing it, the patient often drops resistance. It pays to plan ahead for a variety of situations. Talking with other caregivers at support groups about strategies, devices and interventions that have worked for them is a sound advice. You also should browse electronics stores to what the market has to offer. (The Alzehimer’s Store [http://www.alzstore.com] is a good place to look.) There are also agencies you can hire. They will assess your home and the patient’s living environment and make recommendations about them. Waste no time when you suspect you might have a wanderer. At the first indication, put a baby monitor in the bedroom at night so you can hear if and when your loved one gets up. Also, install safety devices in your home. And by all means, inform your neighbors. Of course, also talk with your physician about treatment for this symptom. When your loved one does wander, call 911 immediately. Many police departments give their officers special education about Alzheimer’s. This can include training officers how best to deal with wandering and other troublesome situations. Another way to prepare is to read an excellent book by Nancy Mace and Peter Rabins, “The 36-hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease, Related Dementing Illnesses, and Memory Loss in Later Life.” It is both informative and enlightening about the various stages of the disease and what you might encounter.