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Hi all. I’m so glad I came across this group. My father has Alzheimer’s. It’s been a year now. I was wondering when do you have to worry about wandering. I see my dad at times will be “which way is the bathroom?” “Which way is my bedroom?” Sometimes he wakes from a nap in the living room and is looking for the bathroom so he opens the first door he sees which is the closet door then keeps going and finds another door (the bathroom). I have a video camera to keep an eye on him during the day. I work during the day and do not have any support at this time because I do see that he wakes up, makes his breakfast, washes the dishes, takes care of the cat, makes his own lunch, makes sure the doors are locked at night. I see he “functions” ok in that way. But do I have to be concerned he may wander? When do people usually wander or start to wander? Thanks all!


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You may want to check with your local office on aging, police department or county resources. In Prince William County, VA, where my dad lives, they have a free program where the sheriff's office can place a GPS tracking device bracelet on those with memory or developmental issues. The GPS can track within 5 miles of his home if ever needed. They also have the phone numbers of family in case there is an issue. The sheriff comes to his home and replaces the battery every 60 days. We told my dad is was his "Dick Tracy" watch (from the 1940's). So far he hasn't wandered but it gives us peace of mind in case he ever did.
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Reply to Caregiver58
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So far, my mother has not wandered or even had the inclination to do so. She complains of being dizzy all the time so hopefully she will not become a wanderer. I LOVE the idea of placing cameras in her home to keep an eye on her when I cannot be over there. Like your father, she is living in her own home and we hope to keep it that way for as long as possible. Cameras are a fabulous idea! Wishing the best for you and your father! Blessings.
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Reply to Dexieboy
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For me he is already wandering, but in his home, so dont worry too much he still finds his way inside, the problem will be serious if he does not find the toiles. The moment he starts wandering outside the house and does not recognise the serroudings and feels lost. Noboddy can say precisely when either of both situation will take place.
Be attentive for the moment. He start to be in an other reality and does incohérent things which he never did in the past.
Then he really might start wandering incoherently i.e he might dress and take an umbrella and go outside etc. If at that moment you were ther and could ask him what he is doing, he would probably tell you something that is not cohérent.
A newproblem for you will start…
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Reply to YvesCals83
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Not all Alzheimers Sufferers do wander, as many loose their balance and are unable to walk unaided. My own Mother never wandered. It is impossible to anticipate what will come next as I had so many little surprises like constantly finding the refrigerator door unclosed, finding lots of cloths in Moms bed, finding Moms right slipper on Her left foot and vice versa and more but nothing that bothered me because I made sure that I would travel this journey with my Mother hence I never left Her alone or unaided day or night. Cameras are wonderful but there is no substitute for that personal touch, for being there on that journey with your Love One so they will never feel lonely or alone and I am so glad that I did.
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Lymie61 Oct 14, 2018
Agree 100% but that isn't possible for everyone, in fact I would venture to say most of us don't have the luxury of being able to be physically present with our loved ones 100% of the time. I would actually submit that cameras & technology are a decent substitute and for my siblings and I, enable us to provide that personal touch (for both mom and ourselves) since we aren't able to be there. Our mom doesn't need assistance all the time yet though, nor do we have any fear of her wandering or increased fear of falling so the care needs may be different.
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agree with others that wandering may never happen..however, be aware that it could. As a precaution you might want to give a heads up to your neighbors and the local PD, just in case. We had a situation a couple years ago. Mom volunteered for 25+ years at a hospice resale shop once a week, and dad at the local meals on wheels. One day he dropped her off and went on his way. Mom had received a call a day before to remind her that they were going to be closed the next day due to remodeling. She didn't remember. But she sensed how unwelcome she was, and so she left. It was a colder day. The resale shop people noticed her missing when someone turned around and shew as gone; obviously her behavior/capacity had become a concern prior. They didn't see her nearby or in the local stores, and so called me, at work, where I was not due in for a few hours; work got me at home. I went into panic mode. And without any other option...I called the police. I flew up there as fast as I could; passed a patrol car on the way and asked if they might have seen her on a side street she'd take to walk home if she knew enough to do that...he told me two officers were up there already. As I spoke to one, the other radioed that he had found her in the CVS at the corner. So in a way, she was just doing something to pass the time until dad came back to pick her up...but that was not for a few hours. It wasn't exactly wandering, but I got a taste of things. And here we are 2-3 years later and she hasn't shown any signs of doing that. Dad did think she was missing once and was rather frantic...but she was "busy" in the furthest corner of our back yard that is just out of view from the house. Also as someone else said, we do have a padlock on our back yard gate. More to keep others out and the gate from being left open. I would strongly encourage, wandering or not, checking with your local fire dept about getting a knox box. Some have plans to help with the cost or they loan/rent them out. They are boxes in which house keys are put inside and locked; the boxes are secured to the outside of the house. Only the fire dept has a key. In an emergency they can get in. Work nicely with an emergency alert button. You might also, in an unrelated way, want to check into Meals on Wheels...a mid-day delivery would give you another "all's okay" sign.
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Reply to gdaughter
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Perhaps wandering is not the correct word. My husband is deteremind is terminded to go somewhere. Either to his childhood home or to the police station. I had to unstall double cylinder locks.
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Lymie61 Oct 14, 2018
Very good point. I agree and have always sensed that when patients "wander" they are actually headed somewhere in their world, whatever time their world is at that moment or were actually headed somewhere in the present and get lost, forgetting which way Dunkin Donuts is for instance. I'm sure some just go out for a walk not headed anywhere in particular (though there is an initial purpose to that as well) but my guess is many of those that just go out for a walk end up wandering because they forget where they are or how to get home and get lost, sometimes knowing they are lost and sometimes not even knowing it.
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Sorry that the link I posted was not clickable. For all Alzheimer's patients, your answer will be different. The woman I know, just diagnosed 3 months ago, she had a precusor of sorts 4 years ago, which was entering a one-way highway IN HER OWN NEIGHBORHOOD, CLEARLY MARKED IN RED~"DO NOT ENTER," WITH HER GRANDCHILDREN IN HER AUTO. And another-she tried and failed to get to her food store. Not exactly cases of wandering, but worthy of a mention.
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https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/stages-behaviors/wandering
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I don't think all Alzheimer's patient's do wander first of all. It doesn't sound like he tends to go places on his own and if that's fine with him he might not be as driven to wander away from home. You also don't have to worry so much about him getting lost that way. But there are inexpensive security camera's available, I got a couple on Amazon for my Mom's that trigger when there is activity. We have one overlooking her garage/parking area so we can see when people arrive, in particular the ADA Van that takes her to pool and therapy appointments but you could use something like that at the door or each door he might use if that's a worry. We have talked about getting a door bell with that feature too we just haven't done that. We also have one over her bedside/couch table (large table) that shows the area where she keeps her medication (set up for the week) and appointment book which she uses to write her BS and wt each morning. We check that camera each morning and evening now to make sure she has taken her meds by a certain time because the new heart meds are time specific. Both cameras will always show us what's going on Live, the garage camera alerts us when it's triggered by movement and stores a certain number of those, the inside camera saves a clip every time it is triggered by movement for 24 hrs I think it is so we can go back and check event's which has come in handy more often recently. The inside camera I have mixed feeling's about it kind of feels like invading her privacy or spying on her but she does know about it and it saves my brother, who lives closest, from having to drive the 20-30 min to check on things when things get off, it helps us keep things from going way off the rails and at this point it is keeping her independent and in her home a bit longer so the trade off works. We (my brothers and I are the only ones with access) all feel uneasy about it too so only use it when necessary. We also have 2 Echo Show's but you probably don't need to think about that since your father lives with you. The camera's though while not perfect would pretty good for alerting you when he leaves the house and comes back or even enable you to see that he is staying in the yard if that's helpful depending on the view you set. We have fairly inexpensive ones (the outside camera is the lowest quality) and they work just fine for our needs but we do have to put up with constant alerts when it's windy for instance or when it's raining buckets and sheets of rain are blowing in a certain direction. The sensitivity can be set though and you could turn alerts off when your home but I think the better cameras probably deal with some of those false alerts better. The camera's do give us so much more piece of mind and without them I think we would be in a very different place so the little annoyances are well worth it. On the other hand maybe he wont be a wanderer at all! Good luck.
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Reply to Lymie61
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The first thing my father experienced was getting lost when he drove to the store, I had to figure out where he was by asking him what he could see and then go there and have him follow me home, he did this again when he went for a walk. He had walked five miles and became confused, fortunately a local policeman helped him get home. When all this happened he was much like your father, still functioning fairly well but easily confused. My recommendation is to check with your local police and find out if they offer a free location tracking device that your father wears like a wristwatch. This is tuned to a specific radio frequency that they can track even through buildings. If your area doesn’t offer this there are various ones in the market for a fee, it can connect to your phone so you can see where he is at. These vary greatly in ability so if you go this route I would spend the extra if you can afford it and get the best one possible, ie one that can even track him if he goes inside somewhere. My dad is in stage5-6 of Alzheimer’s and I have put padlocks on all the gates so he can’t take off on me, before that I put a driveway alert at the end of the driveway so I would know if he was headed out to the road.
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Reply to Glendaj2
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My mom's AL has a picture of a toilet on every door that has a bathroom. This includes her own room. This may help in the early stages. Since you have a camera, be prepared to think ahead what is next. Perhaps send him to daycare when you work will be the next step. Start investigating soon.
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Reply to MACinCT
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My mom is 6 years in and she has yet to wander. She does think she has somewhere to be and is determined to get out the door. My heart goes out to you as you enter this journey.
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Glendaj2 Oct 13, 2018
This is what my father will do and if he gets out of our yard he is on his way. I finally padlocked all the gates as he loves to walk outside and I didn’t want to stop this as it helps him rest better. It works out well, I just have to make sure he isn’t standing outside the door lost and wondering if he can come inside. 😊
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My mum was a wanderer before her official diagnosis two years ago. When she moved in with me, again 2 years ago, I bought a GPS tracker which I put in her handbag. I told her that it would send me a message if her handbag got stolen/lost. She accepted that.
I could track where she was online.
Now she doesn't wander, but only because she cannot go out on her own anymore, due to her dizziness and falls. She's accompanied by me, my husband, or private carers.
But if she could, she would probably still go out and get lost!
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VeggieG Oct 13, 2018
What kind of GPS tracker did you get? Thank you!
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Is finding the bathroom when he has just woken up the only problem? Some people would put a line of tape on the floor to help him find the way. It's easy to be dozy when you are half asleep (especially with meds), but perhaps you gave it as an example and there are other things that you are noticing as well.
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Reply to MargaretMcKen
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There isn't any rule about this and some people never do wander. How far away do you work, could you actually get to him if you watched him go out the door or saw him do something else dangerous like start a cooking fire or climb up on a chair to change a light bulb or _______? Having eyes on somebody is not a substitute for supervision, in my opinion it gives a false sense of security.

Two thoughts:

Get him a wearable gps unit - check the ALZ store or your local police detachment may have this service available (in any case it wouldn't be a bad idea to inform the police that someone with ALZ is living at your address).

Consider adult day care - this will give him a social outlet and you peace of mind.
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