Reducing the Risk of Alzheimer’s Wandering: Tips for Caregivers

Learn how to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s wandering with our expert tips.

Alzheimer’s disease brings about many changes in a person’s life. Memory loss is, of course, the change that most people think about when discussing dementia. But of the many challenges associated with Alzheimer’s, one of the most concerning is wandering.

Wandering is a common behavior of Alzheimer’s that causes a person who is already in a confused state to walk away and become lost. Due to memory loss and confusion, the person may leave the house without being properly dressed for the weather. They might walk into the middle of a busy street. Some may even get into the car and drive while wandering, ending up miles from home or potentially involved in a car accident.

Who Is at Risk for Alzheimer’s Wandering?

Anyone with dementia may experience wandering. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, six in ten people with Alzheimer’s wanders at least once, and many will do so more frequently. However, the risk for wandering may be elevated if the person displays any of the following behaviors:

  • Forgetting how to get to familiar places, such as the grocery store or home
  • Talking about needing to go to work despite having been retired for many years
  • Showing signs of restlessness, such as pacing or making repetitive movements
  • Coming home from a walk or drive later than usual
  • Talking about wanting to “go home” despite already being at home
  • Asking about friends or family who have already passed
  • Getting nervous in crowded areas or loud restaurants

How Can I Reduce the Risk of Wandering?

While it is not possible to prevent wandering altogether, there are several steps family members can take to help reduce the risk of wandering and enhance safety and peace of mind.

  • Identify the time of day when wandering tends to happen most often and schedule activities or exercises during that time to help reduce anxiety and restlessness.
  • Offer opportunities for engaging activities throughout the day.
  • Make sure the person is well fed and hydrated and has easy access to the bathroom when needed.
  • Consider reducing liquids a few hours before bedtime to prevent wandering at night to find the bathroom.
  • Remove access to car keys if the person is no longer able to drive.
  • Develop a routine that the person finds comforting, and include them in daily activities such as preparing meals or folding laundry.
  • Avoid loud, crowded, or disorienting places such as shopping malls or restaurants.
  • Do not leave a person with dementia unsupervised in the car or in a new place as it may trigger disorientation or confusion.
  • Install bells or alarm devices on exterior doors in the home that will alert you if the door is opened.
  • Install safety gates to prevent access to stairs or outdoor areas.
  • Alert neighbors and local police to the issue and have them call you if they notice the person wandering.

How Can In-Home Care Services Help?

Partnering with a professional home care agency, like Jewish Family Home Care, can help provide families with peace of mind. Our RN-supervised caregivers are specially trained in dementia care techniques and can help reduce the risk of wandering. Through the creation of a daily routine and engagement in activities that foster self-reliance, we empower each person to preserve their dignity and sense of purpose. Our dedicated care team prioritizes safety and strives to help individuals uphold strong connections within the community, with friends, and among family members.

Our Alzheimer’s care experts in Hollywood, Sunrise, Coconut Creek, and the surrounding areas of Broward County are highly trained in caring for people with dementia and can offer solutions to reduce the stress and triggers that can lead to wandering. We also provide respite care that enables family caregivers to take the breaks they need for self-care.

Jewish Family Home Care is proud to be an HCP Provider of Choice for five years running and a non-profit organization serving all faiths. If you’d like to learn more about how our award-winning home care services can help you and your loved one, contact us online or at 954-908-5677.