Critter Corner: How You Can Help Prevent Wandering and Wandering-Related Tragedies

Dear Angel,

My grandmother, who has dementia, lives with our family. She seems disoriented a lot, and I am afraid she might wander from the house. What are some things we can put in place in our home to stop her from wandering away? 

Thanks,

Wanda Ring

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Dear Wanda,

Wandering is a risk associated with many conditions, including dementia, autism, and others. 

If you have a loved one who wanders, it can become overwhelming. You may jump out of bed at every creak in the night, worried that your grandmother has walked out of the house. You should certainly consider ways to secure your home, so she doesn’t wander and so you can have some peace of mind. 

You should consider the following: 

• Secure Your Home: Consider contacting a professional locksmith, security company or home improvement professional to promote safety and prevention in your home. You may find it is necessary to prevent your loved one from slipping away unnoticed by installing secure dead bolt locks that require keys on both sides, a home security alarm system, inexpensive battery-operated alarms on doors, fencing your yard, adhering printable STOP SIGNS to doors, windows and other exits, etc.

• Consider a Tracking Device: Check with local law enforcement for Project Lifesaver, MedicAlert, or LoJak SafetyNet services. These tracking devices are worn on the wrist or ankle and locate the individual through radio frequency. Various GPS tracking systems are also available.

• Put up a fence: It can be expensive, but putting up a fence – with secured gates — can prevent wandering while allowing your grandmother a way to get some fresh air.

• Consider an ID Bracelet: Medical ID bracelets will include your name, telephone number and other important information. They may also state that your loved one has autism or dementia. If your loved one will not wear a bracelet or necklace, consider a temporary tattoo with your contact information.

• Put up signs: Sometimes, just hanging a sign inside a door to the outside that says ”Stop” or ”Do Not Enter” can be enough to prevent your loved one from wandering. By the same token, consider putting signs on other doors — like the one to the bathroom — so she can see which door leads where, and she won’t accidentally wind up outside.

• Alert Your Neighbors: It is recommended that caregivers have a brief visit with all neighbors to introduce their loved one or provide a photograph. Knowing your neighbors can help reduce the risks associated with wandering.

If you feel like it is no longer safe for your grandmother to remain in your home, you should make an appointment with Mr. Farr to discuss Life Care Planning and Medicaid Asset Protection.

Hope this is helpful,

Angel

 

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