Wandering away from home is common among people living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. It can be a terrifying experience for both the person who wanders and their families. The wanderer may quickly become disoriented, lost, and difficult to locate. It is vital for caregivers to be aware of actions they can take to prevent wandering as well as what to do when it happens.
As the disease progresses, a person with dementia may become confused and try to keep lifelong routines. For example, they may try to do everyday activities like leaving for work, going to the grocery store or visiting a friend. It can be helpful to put away items that might trigger leaving such as house and car keys, coats, hats, handbags, gym bags and wallets. It is especially important to keep house and car keys locked up or out of reach. Be aware of the person’s past routines and favorite spots. If they do wander, they are likely seeking something or someone from their past.
Other motivations for wandering might include boredom, confusion, hunger, the need for a restroom, or anxiety. Therefore, it is important to establish a daily routine to satisfy their emotional and bodily needs. Our day respite program (a.k.a Social Club) is a great way for someone living with Alzheimer’s to get out and enjoy life in a safe place with those who understand them and their specific needs.
The Alzheimer’s Project participates in the Project Lifesaver Program, created for persons who show a propensity to wander from home. Families who have received the bracelet from the Alzheimer’s Project can contact the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, which uses an FM frequency transmitting device to locate the missing person. Although we are the organization that uses this program locally, it is also available throughout Florida and the United States. The national success rate for finding a missing person is 98% within 1-2 hours. The service is provided free of charge. Call us at (850) 386-2778 for more information or to arrange a brief initial assessment.
In addition to Project Lifesaver, the Alzheimer’s Project has partnered also with Scent Evidence K9. They specialize in using trained dogs to locate missing persons. Scent Evidence K9 provides a scientifically-tested Scent Preservation Kit®, designed to store and preserve the scent of those you love. Canines use the stored scent to locate a missing person. For more information about how the program works, call us at (850) 386-2778.