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Caring For A Loved One With Dementia: Ways To Prevent Wandering

by Mauritânia Jesus

Caring for a loved one with dementia means ensuring the person's physical safety as well as his or her emotional well-being. Part of caring for physical safety includes preventing your loved one from wandering away from home when he or she is confused. Here are a few steps you can take to keep your loved one safe if you are concerned about wandering.

Install Alarm Systems

Alarm systems can alert you to your loved one's movements. Motion-triggered alarms on the doors to the home let you know when the doors are opened, and weighted alarms on your loved one's bed alert you to any wandering that may occur at night. By having these alarms in place, you can prevent your loved one from leaving the home. You can also add doorknob covers to doors to prevent your loved one from being able to open the front and rear doors to the home.

Hide Car Keys

If your loved one has progressed to the point where driving is no longer an option, be sure to secure car keys in a place he or she can't get to them. Don't leave your keys in your purse or coat where they might be found, and consider moving your loved one's vehicle from the garage for extra measure. Consider parking your vehicle on the street instead of in your driveway or garage to make it more difficult for your family member to find your car in the event that he or she locates your car keys.

Meet With The Police

Consider meeting with the police department before something happens to introduce your loved one to the police.  Have a plan in place to help locate your relative if this should ever happen, and give a copy of this plan to the local police liaison. Create a list of emergency contacts who can help you search for your loved one, and make a list of places your relative might try to wander to. Include a current photo of your loved one in the plan. If you live in a large city, visit your local precinct to make contact with the police. This initial introduction will help police to understand that your loved one does not have the ability to remain safe away from home, and it can also help police to understand how to proceed if they locate your relative.

Consider Assisted Living

In some cases, you may not be able to keep your loved one safe. If you have tried different steps to prevent wandering at home but still can't prevent wandering, you may want to consider placement in an assisted living community for people with dementia, such as River Grand Senior Living. The staff at these types of facilities are trained to anticipate wandering behaviors, and they have different programs in place to keep residents safe.

Caring for a loved one with dementia can be difficult. Creating a safe environment for your relative can prevent him or her from wandering from the home. Be sure to discuss your plan with your loved one's physician to see if there are any other steps you can take.