Wandering

Wandering

Unfortunately, the news is full of reports of individuals with dementia who are missing.

They were left sitting on a bench at the grocery store or mall and told to wait, but they aren’t there anymore.

They have driven to a doctor’s appointment and been found hundreds of miles away.

Their caregiver took a shower and finished to find the front door open and the person with dementia nowhere to be found.

They were traveling, and their caregiver went to the restroom for 2 minutes, to exit and find their loved one gone.

Situations like these can have unhappy endings.  Extreme cold or heat makes a scary situation even scarier.  Also, there are those who will take advantage of individuals with memory loss – financially or physically. 

Know this: if your loved one with dementia has ever wandered away, they will do it again.  It’s nearly impossible for a caregiver to stop a loved one with dementia from wandering.  But being aware that it will happen makes a difference.

Be proactive:

  • Alert your neighbors that your loved one is having issues.
  • Get your loved one an identification bracelet or GPS tracker.  Don’t just buy it and put it in a drawer – actually use it!
  • Install door alarms.  You can usually find them for less than $25 at hardware stores.
  • Those with dementia are often looking for a particular person or home.  If your loved one is talking about these things, be extra aware, as he/she may strike out to find that person or childhood home.

If it happens, act quickly:

  • Call the police immediately It is far easier to find someone when the search radius is small.
  • Keep in mind, those with dementia may not follow an obvious path.  Their vision is frequently down cast and their peripheral vision is narrow, so they may not travel a main road.  They may focus on a smaller path and go places you would not expect.

Wandering isn’t something we like to talk about because it’s scary.  But it’s oh so important to be aware.  Being aware and proactive and acting quickly can make all the difference.