My husband has dementia. I'm trying to keep him safe. He is wandering and I need to find a way to stop him. -

My husband has dementia. I'm trying to keep him safe. He is wandering and I need to find a way to stop him.


He walks out of doors and doesn't know where he is. We have tried baby gates, bells. We will be moving to a new apartment. He doesn't recognize where he is now, I'm not sure what to do when we move.



At this point he needs 24 hour supervision, either at home or in a memory care facility. I just went through this with my dad as his dementia accelerated. I stayed with him for about 4 days at home.  It was exhausting trying to keep him out of trouble. He went into care about a month ago.
Helpful Answer (18)
Reply to Windyridge

Windyridge gives good advice. You may think it’s easy for us to just say “put him in a facility”, but most of us on this site have been there. I had to do it with my mom and will soon be facing doing it with my husband. Even when in a facility, my mom tried to escape. She’d cut off her ankle monitors. But, there was an entire staff of people, exit doors with alarms and many other precautions to keep her safe.

If a facility isn’t possible, consider contacting your local Agency on Aging to ask for suggestions. You might also consider an organization who retrofits homes for Autistic people who wander. A lot of their equipment is without charge.
Helpful Answer (18)
Reply to Hugemom

Where I live the County Mental Health Board has a program called CellTrak. The person is fitted with a watch type device that contains a RFID chip. The person is registered and if they wander you contact the police and they show up with a "command post", they have all the info on the person, photo, description and an officer will go out in a car that has an antenna that will pick up the frequency from the chip. The cost on this in minimal since it is through the county.
There are other devices like a tag that you would put on your dogs collar. You can set up a specific range and if the tag goes beyond the preset range you will be alerted on your phone. (you do need a "smart phone")
I am sure there are other devices some may carry a monthly fee for the service, much like the medical alert units.
Contact the local police. first I am sure they would want to know if your loved one may wander and they will respond faster. Second they may be aware of a local program that is in your area. 
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to Grandma1954

Janpatsy, if the wandering is the primary challenging behavior at this point, I think I would try all the suggestions about preventing wandering. This is your husband, and assuming it has been a rewarding relationship, you most likely want him home (if you can handle it).

Try prevention -- a bolt lock high on the door, an obstacle in front of the door, etc. Try alerting you when the door opens -- a motion detector, bells, etc. Try quick recovery measures -- register with the police, gps chips, an ID bracelet with your phone #, etc.

This is a serious problem and has had lots and lots written about it. In addition to the suggestions given to you here, Google dementia wandering for additional ideas.

There may come a time (or it may already be here) that you simply cannot keep him safe. None of your attempts to resolve this problem works. And/or the time may come when this is just one of several very challenging dementia behaviors and you cannot handle them all. The kindest, most loving thing to do at that point is to place him in a secure environment that can keep him safe and handle his behaviors. Visit him daily. Advocate for him. Never abandon him! But move the location of your caring for him.

See how it goes in your new apartment. Try the prevention measures that are practical for you. If necessary, be open to placing your dear husband in a secure environment.

This is a hideous disease for loved ones, as well as the person who has it! Hugs to you. Keep in touch here. Many of us can relate to your situation.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to jeannegibbs

I agree with Windy. 24/7 supervision is needed. The move will be very hard on him, he won't have a clue where he is and will want to go home.

When they get to this point they need to be kept safe, that is usually in memory care. Trying to care for our loved ones at home when they have reach this point in their disease is very difficult and for many impossible. It is so heartbreaking to see on the news nearly weekly now about demented seniors have wandered and gone missing. Most of the time they are found, but have died. They need to be kept safe.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to gladimhere

I agree with those above about this. When my LO began to wander, her doctor prescribed Secure Memory Care. One caretaker's around the clock efforts often are not sufficient, as you would have to be awake 24/7. The trouble with locator devices is that they don't prevent wandering to start with and don't prevent the person from walking into traffic, getting in the car with a stranger, falling off a bridge, etc. And there's no way to ensure that a dementia patient will keep a locator device on their person. So, constant supervision is the only option.  I am not aware of any way to make the patient stop wandering.  It could continue for as long as he is able to walk and even if they are in a wheelchair.   Once they start though, you have to assume that it will continue for their own safety. 
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to Sunnygirl1

Jan, in the mean time try this.... I read that if you place a black throw rug in front of the doors that lead outside that someone with dementia might view that rug as a dark hole, and will be afraid to step on it. Sorry, I never needed to try this, so I am not sure how well it would work.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to freqflyer

My cousin put deadbolts that needed a key from the inside to open. I think there was a fire regulation against them but someone was with my Uncle at all times. Once my Uncle passed, the locks were changed. I have the round knobs sovI got baby saftey covers. When a person trys to use the door the baby cover just goes around and around.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to JoAnn29

When my friend for whom I am POA started to wander, I had an agency provide 24 hour staffing to begin with. One person would come and spend 5-6 days there continuously and then trade off with another one. They would take the key out of the safety lock so my friend couldn't get out at night. So a lock like that where you have the key would help. 24 hour staffing was very expensive and I was able to convince her husband that it was time for them to go to the memory care apartment I had found for them. It worked out really well, but was also expensive. They had enough cash to pay for many months and the husband now lives there alone after his wife passed. He is happy there and well looked after. He misses his wife, of course, but is grateful for the many years they had together. I am grateful I found such a place that really pays attention to the people living there, watching over them carefully as they continue to lose mental capacity. A doctor visits my friend once a month now to check on things (covered by his health insurance policy) and will add a medication that might help as his condition changes. He is physically healthy at age 91 and plans to live to 100. He tells me my job is to live as long as he does so I can see to this care. And I am trying to do that. We've been friends since the 1970s and I tell him when it is time for the dentist or eye doctor that these outings are a good excuse for us to be together and not a burden on me.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to JohnnyJ

What they do in a lot of memory care facilities is wall paper the door with a book case filled with books. Then they don’t know it’s a door and think it’s a book case. It’s worth a try!
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Reply to Barb53

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