People with dementia can wander from home, even if you are the most diligent of caregivers. The Alzheimer’s Association gives the following tips for reducing your risk.
FULL STORY: How local families live with dementia
• Carry out daily activities. Having a routine can provide structure. Learn about creating a daily plan.
• Identify the most likely times of day that wandering may occur. Plan activities at that time. Activities and exercise can reduce anxiety, agitation and restlessness.
• Reassure the person if he or she 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. This could be a shopping malls, grocery stores or other busy venues.
• Place locks out of the line of sight. Install either high or low on exterior doors, and consider placing slide bolts at the top or bottom.
• 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. Do not leave someone with dementia unsupervised in new or changed surroundings. Never lock a person in at home or leave him or her in a car alone.
• Keep car keys out of sight. If the person is no longer driving, remove access to car keys — a person with dementia may not just wander by foot. The person may forget that he or she can no longer drive. If the person is still able to drive, consider using a GPS device to help if they get lost.
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