Understandably, grown children who have an aging parent with dementia or Alzheimer’s often worry about their loved one wandering off. Our Bay Area home care agency sees all of the tragic news stories about seniors “disappearing” or wandering off, just as you do. If this is a concern you have, it’s important to know the signs, and what you can do to keep your aging loved one safe.
First, what are the warning signs that your loved one might wander off? Pay attention to whether a senior:
Talks about responsibilities they had in the past as if they still have these responsibilities. For instance, does your aging parent talk about getting ready for work or taking/picking up the children from school?
Often has you guide him or her to the kitchen, living room, bathroom, or areas of the home he or she should be familiar with.
Paces on a regular basis without an underlying reason, or paces out of boredom.
How you can help
- Make sure your loved one is physically active early in the day to help avoid a feeling of restlessness in the evening hours.
- Create a regular routine and be sure your senior has daily structure in his/her life. Organizing the day and sticking to a positive routine helps alleviate the need a senior often feels to leave home.
- Install motion detectors and/or alarms so you’ll be alerted if your loved one attempts to get out of the home. You’ll also want to install locks that are more difficult to operate on doors and windows.
What happens if your loved one does wander off?
- Have a list prepared of the places you believe your aging parent would most likely wander to.
- Make sure your neighbors have a way to contact you (phone number, email address, etc.) should they notice your loved one is outdoors alone, walking down the street, etc.
- Notify the police if you cannot locate your missing senior within 15 or 20 minutes.
- Consider the ID jewelry program offered by the Alzheimer’s Association.
At Care Indeed, our in-home caregivers are dedicated to caring for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s, and helping manage their daily routines and activities. If you’re in Menlo Park, Palo Alto, or other nearby cities in the Bay Area, trust our team for exceptional, compassionate dementia care.