My grandfather wanders away and won't stay at home. What can I do to keep him safe?

Asked by

My grandfather wanders away from home. He is no longer allowed to drive, but he hates it and rebels. The problem is we live in Houston and it isn't safe. We have even used all our resources to get him his own apartment, but he is still not satisfied. I have heard of GPS monitored bracelets, but have no idea how to get one.

Answers 1 to 10 of 35
Medical, or life alert, devices come in pendants and bracelets. (There may be other configuations but I'm only familiar with these.) I have one for my father.

I researched the alert systems before I decided on Guardian Medical, a local company which also provides alarm and security systems. The reason I chose them was because they were the most honest in cautioning that the GPS systems (at the time we spoke) weren't completely flawless, that they weren't satisfied with them and were continuing to research and test systems.

Other medical alert companies bragged about how helpful GPS could be but balked when I pointedly asked about the then current technological limitations. Some companies, such as those that advertise in senior magazines, refused to give me any information but wanted contact information to send literature. They were the first to be eliminated from consideration.

The pendant has worked out well; it's so sensitive that if Dad moves and/or it's dropped, within a few seconds he's contacted to determine if he's all right.

At one point it alerted twice while Dad was in church. The person who called said she could hearing church songs in the background. Just changing his position caused the device to alert and the company called me to let me know.

Here's how to get them: Google "life alert systems" or "medical alert systems" for Houston, Texas. Make a checklist of what you want, call each and determine which best suits your needs. Also Google each company and add "complaints" to determine if there have been reported problems and whether they've addressed them.

It probably wouldn't hurt to alert the Houston PD and EMS that your grandfather is a wanderer.

Has he been checked out by his doctor to determine if there's dementia involved in the need to wander?
Yes, he has depression and onset dementia. I am trying now to get home health to send a provider to his home for extra peace of mind.
My mom was doing the same thing.Eventually, for her safety, I had to place her in a memory care unit, that's locked for her own good.Try giving your father COCONUT OIL.Google it! God Bless.
Does he live alone? If he has dementia that's probably not a good idea, even with someone living with him he can still sneak out if he truly wants out. When my sister got picked up by the Highway Patrol for walking on the freeway we had to get more serious with 24 hour care. It's sad the CHP told us they have so many elder wanderers they don't even write up reports any more as long as they find a responsible party to take the person home.

We looked into monitors that you can access from phones, tablets or computers to watch what's going on inside and outside the residence. In our case my sister's POA decided to put her in a living facility, but she is so highly functional we are trying to bring her home with live in care. She has already figured out how to get out of the memory care unit twice so she needs one on one care that a facility just cannot provide. She has short term memory loss and wanders, other than that she does everything on her own, so she gets antsy being on lock down. Try to keep him active and on the go, the more activity they have the less likely they are to wander. God bless you and good luck.
GPS is wonderful technology but I see one flaw: doesn't someone have to wander off first before one can find them by GPS?

Wandering is so dangerous. It might be time to think about a memory care unit.
Our local POLICE DEPT. has tracking devices that you can get for $250. If the person wanders off, you call police and they can track them. It's something new. They come to your home and talk with the dementia person and reassure them. We live in Florida.
All the tracking devices are probably fine but if he doesn't want to use them, I doubt if it will help. I think the only thing that works at a certain stage is having someone with him or supervision. Easier said than done but it may be what's needed. I would see if he is eligible for home health aide or companion services.
Perhaps enroll him in senior programs, or adult day care facilities.
Try to keep him active. He seems to have lots of energy.
Good luck.
Top Answer
My local Police Dept got me a GPS bracelet for free. They came out and put it on my husband. They come every month and change the batteries and they can find him fast if he goes out of the house. If you go on vacation you have to contact the police there and give them the code. I also got him a Medic Alert bracelet which puts him on a national registry. They have all his personal info and his medical needs in the history. On Easter day this year he wandered out of church and was running down a major highway to find me. The police saw him fall and go down. Luckily no car hit him. He was helicoptered to a shock trauma unit two hours away. I spent all day looking for him. That is why we have all these precautions now. Eventually he will have to go in a nursing home. But he still knows me now and I don't want him to be in a home if I can take care of him by myself. I will do it as long as I can. He is, after all, my honey, and I took my wedding vows very seriously. "Till death do we part!" We have been married for 35 years. It was a second marriage for both of us. And he has taken such good care of me for as long as he could. Now it is my turn to do the same.

I didn't see an answer regarding whether he lives alone. It's important to understand the living situation to help identify a solution. If he lives alone, then everything is an "after the fact" solution. GPS is not 100% accurate and he may already be hurt when found - if found. Also, if he is living alone, there are many other safety concerns - fires, falls, medications, etc.
Lots of good suggestions here, but the biggest thing is he shouldn't be living alone. He should be with someone - family, assisted living - someone or some place that has alarms on the door because even with a monitor that will help to find them, they are out wandering around for a while before they are found and can get out in traffic.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support