Dangers of Dementia: Wandering

elderly man wanderingDementia is common in elderly people, and if you are responsible for taking care of an aging parent with signs of dementia, it is important to be proactive against the dangers associated with this disease. One of the biggest dangers is wandering. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that more than 60 percent of people with Alzheimer’s wander away from their home or caregiver at some point. Whether the person simply can’t remember the way back home or is looking for something familiar, wandering can be scary for everyone. But with some preparation, you  can help your loved one navigate through this disorder safely.

Identify the patient. The first step to taking care of a person with dementia is to invest in medical alert jewelry and make sure that it is worn at all times. Medical officials are trained to look for this jewelry right away, and an accessory, such as a bracelet, could also let other people know of your parent’s dementia if the wandering occurs in a neighborhood or store. Even if your parent is in a nursing home or assisted living facility, investing in id bracelet could end up saving them from getting lost.

Notify neighbors and friends. If your elderly parent is living at home, it is important to let the neighbors know where your parent lives and of his or her dementia. Take a recent photo as well so they know who to look for in case of an emergency. Also tell friends of your parent’s disease in case you ever need help looking for your parent if he or she wanders off.

Don’t let your parent out of your sight in public places. Although it may seem like a nice thing to do, dropping your parent off at the door of a store while you park the car is not a good idea. If your parent suffers from dementia, it is likely that he or she won’t be there when you get to the storefront. It is also important to walk behind the person with dementia in public so you can always keep an eye on him or her. Elderly people can disappear very quickly if you turn away.

Take away the keys. Although it may seem like your parent can drive normally, if he or she is showing signs of dementia, the chances of an accident increase. Plus, it’s very possible that he or she may not know how to get somewhere, or worse, back home. This may only occur every now and then, but all it takes is one time of becoming lost behind the wheel. Find a way to get your parent to the store once a week. Also, the local senior center might have a bus to pick up elderly people. You may also want to look into assisted living at this point, so that your parent can be around people and have his or her needs met without having to drive anywhere.

About Amanda Beck

Amanda Beck writes for American Medical ID on a variety of topics relating to health care and healthy living, especially for those whose medical conditions warrant an emergency ID.