More than half of all Alzheimer's and late-stage dementia patients will exhibit the behavior of wandering. There are several reasons for this: The person may be confused, or restless, or even bored; s/he may have had a habit or routine at a specific time earlier in life that they suddenly feel they are missing. Regardless of the reason, there are several measures that we as caregivers can take in order to manage the situation in the unfortunate event that we be faced with it;
1. Keep Emergency Contacts with Your Senior - Prepare an index card with your phone number and address and keep it in your senior's possession, whether it is in a pocket or somehow attached to his or her clothes.
2. Involve the Community - If you are friendly with your neighbors, inform them of the situation and ask that they contact you if they ever see your senior out alone, seeming confused or lost.
3. Listen to Your Senior - What may seem like rambling can often give insight into what is pulling on your senior. Does s/he often say "I have to get to work," or make mention of a specific location s/he used to see frequently? Wandering often takes dementia patients to places of former significance, even if they themselves don't understand why. If your senior has disappeared, it is advisable to look in these places first.
4. Place a Time-Limit on Your Search - All we want as caregivers is to see our loved ones safe. So of course, when our senior disappears, the first and only thing on our mind is finding them. But if you've searched all of the most obvious places and time is ticking by, the best idea is to contact the police and allow them to handle it. Prepare in your mind a set amount of time: tell yourself you will search for ten or fifteen minutes. If you haven't found your senior by the end of this amount of time, the next step is to find help.
As you are learning to deal with the changes that aging can bring, be patient with yourself, patient with your loved one, seek advice and answers to questions, and remember you are not in this alone. Contact a Caring Senior Service team member today!