Sixty percent of people with dementia will wander. The AgingCare.com forum is filled with people coming together to share valuable advice and information. We’ve compiled experienced caregivers’ best tips for recognizing when outside help is needed to keep a wandering senior safe and prevent caregiver burnout.
Know When to Seek Professional Help
“Unfortunately, if wandering is a nightly event, a senior cannot be left to wander and you cannot be attending to them each and every time since you need your sleep. In my opinion, nightly wandering starts to necessitate 24-hour (on the job) attendance. You may need overnight in-home care or to consider placement in a facility. It’s the best option for both parties.” –Ismiami
“Once the nighttime fidgeting and wandering began with my dad, my mom began sleeping in the guest bedroom so that she could get some rest. She placed a motion detector in his room so that she could be alerted if he wandered more than 3 feet from the bed (although the motion detector was adjustable and portable). This way, she could redirect him, get him back into bed, and they both were able to sleep. However, once Dad started getting up 6-12 times a night, she realized she needed more help. She hired a nighttime caregiver to supervise him while she slept. A caregiver can’t provide proper care and stay healthy with too little sleep.” –JoleenFirek
“Just be realistic about what you can do (if you’re going it alone). If you don’t know what your loved one will do when alone, DON’T leave them unsupervised! It only takes one tragedy to ruin your life. Have resources in place to help you. There are daycare centers (senior centers), church groups, and even in-home caregivers that can come and keep them company while you are away.” –MiaMadre
“All dementia patients are different. If you want to keep your loved one home, you WILL have to find a way to secure the house in a safe fashion and provide continuous supervision. I had a neighbor who cared for her elderly mother with Alzheimer’s. One day her mom ‘escaped’ out of an accidentally unlocked door, took a nasty fall in the street and passed away. If you can’t be assured of securing your loved one, you will have to place them in a locked memory care facility. Anything else is too dangerous to imagine.” –CarolLynn
“See the doctor for help with wandering and sundowning. He or she can assess if your loved one is ready for placement in a facility. If they are diagnosed with dementia and sundowner’s syndrome or wandering, they will likely qualify for an assisted living facility (ALF) with a secure ‘memory care unit.’ Again, talk to their doctor and be prepared. Good ALFs are not cheap, and they charge more for memory care units. Check online for facility ratings, reviews and inspection reports before you pick one. Your loved one may actually fare better in a good memory care unit at an ALF than at home.” – Nowmymomsmom
“If you think your loved one would be better served in a memory care facility, talk to the doctor about their behaviors. The doctor should be able to provide you with some clear guidance and help you through what needs to be done. If they wander through rooms at night, a memory care facility would be the best. Sometimes we just can’t keep them safe at home anymore. It can’t hurt to make some plans about what to do moving forward.” –JessieBelle