For the person with dementia residing in the community, wandering increases their risk of danger. Some explanations associated with wandering include a changed in environment, restlessnes, or trying to find their childhood home.
Following are some suggestions about coping with wandering:
- Have your care receiver wear an identification bracelet or necklace, or sew identifying information in their clothes. If they become lost and are unable to communicate adequately, this will alert others to their identity and residence.
- The national Safe Return Program through the Alzheimer's Association (www.alzheimernyc.org) is designed to return the Alzheimer's individual safely home by involving local police, emergency and transit personnel.
- Maintain a current photo in the event you need to report your person missing.
- Alert your neighbors about your relative's wandering behavior. Make sure they have your phone number(s).
- Consider a slide bolt installed at floor level or above eye level.
- A barrier such as a curtain or colored streamer can mask the door. A familiar "stop" or "do not enter" sign also may help.
- A dark, or solid color mat or 2-foot painted threshold in front of the door may keep the individual from going out, may create the illusion of a hole to be avoided.
- Safety door knob covers may prevent your care receiver from opening the door.
- Be sure to secure or put away anything that could cause danger, both inside and outside of the house.