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Senior Safety: Preventing Wandering and Falls

Why seniors wander and solutions to help keep them safe

When working with people who have Alzheimer’s or dementia, wandering and injuries are always a worrisome symptom for family members and caregivers. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, every six in ten people with Alzheimer’s disease with exhibit wandering behavior. Those who are not located within 24 hours of disappearance lead a higher risk of serious injury or death. Oftentimes, the person dealing with Alzheimer’s or dementia are able to remember places or events from their childhood, or early adulthood and the disease makes them believe that they are still at those locations when in reality they are somewhere else. The individual may wander off into unknown places, in which others must go out and find them, hoping that the individual has not injured themselves while wandering.

Reasons for wandering include:

  • Memory loss. Those who cannot remember their destination may wander as a result. Wandering also tends to occur when the individual is attempting to reach a destination that may have been a part of their past routine.
  • Physical needs. Basic physical needs such as going to the bathroom may cause the individual to wander.
  • Social needs. The individual may be lonely and is longing for social interactions with others.
  • Insomnia. Lack of sleep often leads to confusion and disorientation which ultimately leads to wandering.
  • Medication side effects. Medications used to treat common conditions may lead to side effects such as disorientation which leads to wandering.
  • Disorientation. Confusion regarding time, place, and identity is common with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. The combination with memory loss may cause the individual to wander out of fear to a seemingly more familiar environment.

High Tech Solution to Prevent Wandering & Falls

As a result, the Alzheimer’s Association has teamed up with MedicAlert to provide a solution to families. The MedicAlert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return is a 24-hour nationwide emergency response system. This is for individuals who have Alzheimer’s, dementia, or medical emergencies. The mechanism is worn by the individual as a discreet ID bracelet or pendant. This service provides 24-hour assistance to individuals who have been reported missing. Once a wandering report has been issued, a community support network is activated which includes the local Alzheimer’s Association chapters as well as the local law enforcement. In return, if a citizen or emergency personnel locate the individual, they are able to call the toll-free number that is listed on the person’s MedicAlert + Safe Return ID jewelry. The individual’s family will then be contacted, ensuring the individual makes a safe return back home.

In order to prevent wandering in the future, it is important to try to understand why the individual is wandering. Ask your loved one where are they trying to go, and take the time to allow them to talk about their “glory days” so that you are able to get a better understanding about their memories and what they are currently missing. In addition, pay close attention to patterns, noting what time of day they tend to disappear and what direction or areas are you most likely to find them. Taking your loved one for a walk a few times a week is a great way to promote healthy walking, which will also allow for them to get fresh air and exercise. Ask them questions about their surroundings throughout your walk such as what are they seeing, and do they recognize the surroundings.

Comfort Care Home Wichita Memory Care Program

Placing your loved one into a specialized memory care home is recommended as well. Comfort Care Homes Wichita provides high-quality Alzheimer’s and memory care in a small, residential group setting. Our staff will conduct a free evaluation of the individual to determine if traditional, or advanced memory care is recommended for them. We promote for our residents to continue to do as much for themselves as possible. Our residents are able to continue lifelong habits such as gardening to keep them outside and active. Our caregivers focus on psychological and social comfort to keep our residents safe, comfortable, and less anxious.

Making sure that your senior loved one is safe from wandering and injuries do not have to be a worrisome issue. Allow the loving memory care providers at Comfort Care Homes Wichita to keep them safe and active.

Article Resource: “MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return” – Alzheimer’s Association

For more information about memory care services provided by ComfortCare Homes, please call our office at (316) 444-0532.

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