Eleanor Alexander never deviated from her night-time routine. She’d eat a light dinner, let her dog “Spot” out, let him back in, double-lock the screen door. And then, she and her companion would call it a night.
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Tips To Prevent Wandering
- Having a routine can provide structure.
- Reassure the person if he or he feels lost, abandoned or disoriented.
- If the person with dementia wants to leave to “go home” or “go to work,” use communication focused on exploration and validation. Refrain from correcting the person. For example, “We are staying here tonight. We are safe and I’ll be with you. We can go home in the morning after a good night’s rest.”
- Ensure all basic needs are met. Has the person gone to the bathroom? Is he or she thirsty or hungry?
- Avoid busy places that are confusing and can cause disorientation. (ie.,shopping malls, grocery stores or other busy venues.)
- Place locks out of the line of sight. Install them either high or low on exterior doors, and consider placing slide bolts at the top or bottom.
Home Safety Checklist
- Camouflage doors by painting them the same color as the walls, or cover them with removable curtains or screens. Cover knobs with cloth the same color as the door or use childproof knobs.
- Use devices that signal when a door or window is opened. This can be as simple as a bell placed above a door or as sophisticated as an electronic home alarm.
- Provide supervision. (Never lock the person with dementia in at home alone or leave him or her in a car without supervision)
- Keep car keys out of sight.
When Someone with Dementia is Missing:
- Begin search-and-rescue efforts immediately. Ask neighbors, friends and family to call if they see the person alone. Keep a recent, close-up photo and updated medical information on hand to give to police.
- Is the individual right or left-handed? Wandering generally follows the direction of the dominant hand.
- Keep a list of places where the person may wander. This could include past jobs, former homes, places of worship or a restaurant.
- Provide the person with ID jewelry.
- Consider having the person carry or wear an electronic tracking GPS device that helps manage location.
- If the person does wander, search the immediate area for no more than 15 minutes before calling 911. Report to police that a person with Alzheimer’s disease is missing. Request a Mattie’s Call be issued.
For more tips, go the www.alz.org
To get more information, 1-800-272-3900
Source: Alzheimer’s Association