September 18th, 2019


Aging with Grace…

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With the time change and our evenings staying lighter a little longer each day, this seems like a good time to answer questions related to concerns about having a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s wander away from home and become lost.

Dear Grace,
I’m caring for my husband who has Alzheimer’s and lately he wants to go out for walks alone more often but I’m afraid he’ll get lost or confused and won’t come back. I don’t want to tell him he can’t go because that makes him angry. Any suggestions how to handle this?

Dear Anne,
You don’t mention if this happens at specific times of the day or if there’s somewhere specific he wants to walk to. Try to see if there’s a pattern to when it happens and plan something you can do together such as meal preparation, gardening, household chores, etc. If that doesn’t deter him, make sure he dresses in bright clothing, has identification with him and a cell phone, if he has one and can use it. If you find out this happens around the same time, try asking him if he wants to go for a walk with you and let him choose where to walk. Please see below for additional information and suggestions.

Preparing for and Preventing Wandering…
Six in ten people with Alzheimer’s disease are likely to wander. There are clues to look for that mean your loved one is likely to wander:
-Tries to go “home” even when he/she is already home
-Is restless, paces or makes repetitive movements
-Has difficulty locating familiar places like the bathroom, bedroom or dining room
-Feels lost in a new or changed environment
-Tries to go to work even though he/she no longer has a job

Changes to home environment…
-lace slide bolts on exterior doors out of the line of sight (either up high or down low on the doors)
-Place warning bells above doors or pressure mats on the floor in front of the door to alert you
-Avoid leaving the person alone in a car
-Keep coats, keys and pocketbooks out of sight as they can trigger a person to want to go outside

Plan ahead…
-Enroll in a program to track and/or monitor whereabouts of your loved one.
-Alert neighbors, family and friends that he/she may wander and to let you know if they see the person walking outside alone.

These tips/suggestions are not meant to be all inclusive as each individual is different. Please follow up with your physician on your specific situation. Some information used in this publication came for the Alzheimer’s Association website www.alz.org

If you have topics you’d like more information on or questions you’d like answered, please email me: DearGrace@pibarre.org or write me: Dear Grace, c/o Project Independence, 81 N. Main Street – Suite 1, Barre, VT 05641-4283

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