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Why Older Adults with Dementia Wander

By Cherie Coe, 9:00 am on

Dementia causes many challenging symptoms for seniors that caregivers must learn to manage and prevent. Out of all of these symptoms, wandering is the most troublesome because no one wants to think about their loved one getting lost. Seniors who wander sometimes wind up injured or ill before they are found, which can make it difficult for family caregivers to care for their senior loved ones.

Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Jefferson County Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

Knowing the reasons why a senior might wander can help you plan preventative strategies to keep your loved one safe.

Getting Confused in Public

So much information is available about keeping seniors safe at home that their chances of wandering in public spaces are often overlooked. Seniors with dementia may get lost in a crowded area, or they may find a quiet space if they are overwhelmed by the noise. For this reason, caregivers who can keep track of their whereabouts in public should always accompany seniors with a tendency to wander. It is also helpful to include identification information somewhere on your loved one’s clothing or body such as on a pendant, which can help others get him or her back to you.

Restlessness

At some point, almost everyone has had an urgent need to get moving. Seniors with dementia are also susceptible to getting bored, and they may wander in an attempt to burn off some energy. Keep your loved one busy during the day by providing a well-rounded schedule of quiet activities combined with exercise. Enjoying a walk, doing some chair exercises, or simply spending time in the garden can all help alleviate feelings of restlessness that cause seniors to wander.

Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Jefferson County, CO, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.

Getting Out of Routine

Seniors with dementia depend on their daily routine to help them determine what is supposed to come next. Sometimes, routines change and your loved one may get confused. For example, seniors who are used to eating after a bath may get up in search of food if you switch up the order because they think they forgot to eat dinner. Try to make sure your loved one’s main activities happen in the same order every day. If something does have to change, be alert to the possibility of wandering. It also helps to work with other caregivers to maintain a consistent routine as much as possible.

Physical Discomfort

Night wandering is particularly troublesome because it could be hours before someone notices a senior has left the home. However, this is a common time for wandering to occur because seniors may attempt to fulfill a physical need without assistance. For example, seniors have been found at fast food restaurants in the middle of the night because they were hungry, or they may accidentally leave the house after getting lost trying to go to the restroom. For this reason, you will want to address your loved one’s physical needs before he or she goes to bed. Sometimes, all it takes is a light snack or a restroom break before bedtime to help seniors stay asleep.

Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Jefferson County seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to slow cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance. To learn more about CTM and our other elder care services, please call one of our knowledgeable Care Managers at (303) 987-5992 to schedule a complimentary consultation.