Brain cells die, connections are lost, and eventually, patients cannot care for themselves. This brain disorder not only robs patients of their memories and dignity but also takes a toll on their families and caregivers.
Brain scans of Alzheimer’s patients show a loss of cells in the hippocampus, which is responsible for forming new memories. This explains why patients have difficulty remembering recent events or even the names of familiar people and places.
As their loved ones watch helplessly, they slowly lose the ability to communicate, care for themselves, and even recognize those closest to them. Though there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, there is hope.
With the proper support and treatment, those impacted can maintain their quality of life for many years. And there is hope that a final cure may one day be found. In the meantime, we must do everything we can to support those with this disease.
Wandering is a typical symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. Individuals with Alzheimer’s may leave their homes, becoming lost and confused. This can be dangerous, as they are a risk factor for dehydration, hypothermia, and injuries.
Wandering can also be traumatic for caregivers, who often spend hours searching for their loved ones. This blog post will explore some strategies for ensuring Alzheimer’s patients are wandering safely.
Why wondering is common in Alzheimer’s patients
Developing Alzheimer’s disease can cause patients to have structural changes in their brains and many behavioral symptoms. So how is Alzheimer’s disease treated? There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s; however, there are treatments available that focus on relieving symptoms and slowing disease progression.
Many people with Alzheimer’s feel a strong compulsion to keep moving, and they may walk for hours at a time. Sometimes, they become lost and can’t find their way back. There are some reasons why wandering is so common in Alzheimer’s patients.
Loss of short-term memory: One of the most typical early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is short-term memory loss. This can cause Individuals to wonder so they can’t remember things that happened recently.
Difficulty with language: People with Alzheimer’s may also have difficulty with speech, leading to them wondering why they can’t find the right words to say what they want.
Difficulty with executive functioning: Executive functioning includes planning, problem-solving, and decision-making abilities. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, patients may have difficulty with these abilities, which can lead to them wondering why they can’t do things they used to be able to do.
Changes in mood and behavior: Alzheimer’s and related dementias can cause changes in a person’s mood and behavior, which can be a source of wonder for patients and their loved ones. For example, patients may become agitated or aggressive or experience depression or anxiety. For managing behavioral symptoms, medications and other treatments may be prescribed by a doctor.
Changes in sleep patterns: Many of those impacted by Alzheimer’s also experience changes in their sleep patterns, which can cause them to wonder why they are suddenly sleeping more during the day or waking up frequently at night.
Social withdrawal: Many of those impacted by Alzheimer’s withdraw from social activities and become increasingly isolated as the disease progresses. This isolation can lead to patients wondering why their friends and family members no longer seem interested in spending time with them.
Difficulty with self-care: Those impacted by Alzheimer’s may have difficulty with basic self-care tasks such as bathing, dressing, and eating. This can cause them to wonder why they can no longer do things they once found easy to do.
Ways to ensure those with Alzheimer’s Disease are wandering safely
With these tips in mind, you can help your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease stay safe while wandering:
Keep a Daily Routine
One of the best ways to ensure those people impacted by Alzheimer’s are wandering safely is to keep them on a daily routine. This means getting them up at the same time each day, going to bed at the same time each night, and eating meals at regular times. Keeping a daily routine will help minimize confusion and disorientation and make it less likely that patients will wander off.
Have regular check-ins
This could involve calling or visiting them at set times throughout the day or sending someone else to check on them if you cannot do so yourself. Checking in on them regularly will help to make sure that they are safe and where they are supposed to be.
Use GPS Tracking Devices
These devices can be placed on clothing or in shoes and will allow caregivers to track the whereabouts of patients at all times. This can be a helpful option for patients prone to wandering off, as it can help ensure their safety.
Keep Important Items Close by
It is also essential to keep important items close when caring for people with Alzheimer’s. This includes things like medications, glasses, and any other items that the patient may need regularly. Keeping these items close will help minimize confusion and make it less likely that patients will wander off in search of them.
Common triggers include changes in routine, feeling overwhelmed or stressed, and feeling bored or restless. Once triggers are identified, caregivers can take steps to avoid them or minimize their impact.
Keep them engaged
And keep them engaged in activities that they enjoy. This could include things like reading, doing puzzles, or listening to music. Keeping their minds active will help reduce the risk of them becoming bored and wandering off in search of something more interesting.
Provide Stimulating Activities
One way to reduce the risk of wandering is to provide them with stimulating activities that can help to keep their minds active and engaged. This can include activities like puzzles, memory games, and crafts. Doing these activities with the patient can also help to create a bond and reduce feelings of isolation or boredom.
It is also important to avoid isolating people with Alzheimer’s from the outside world. This means keeping them involved in social activities and ensuring regular contact with friends and family. Isolation can increase feelings of anxiety and depression, which can trigger wandering behavior.
While it is essential to provide care and assistance for people with Alzheimer’s, it is also important to promote their independence as much as possible. This means letting them do things for themselves whenever possible and encouraging them to stay active and involved in their own lives. Promoting independence can help patients feel more capable and less likely to wander off in search of assistance.
Use Signs and Symbols
Caregivers can also use signs and symbols around the house to remind people with Alzheimer’s of important information, such as where the bathroom is or what certain rooms are used for. Having this readily available visual information can help reduce confusion and make it less likely that patients will wander off in search of something they cannot find.
Install an Alarm System
The alarm system can be set up so that if a patient tries to leave the house, an alarm will sound, alerting caregivers that someone is trying to leave. This can be a helpful option for patients at risk of wandering off without supervision.
Provide distraction-free environment
A distraction-free environment can also help prevent Alzheimer’s patients from becoming agitated and wanting to leave. This means low noise levels, having few people around, and avoiding bright lights or loud music. Creating a calm and relaxed environment can help to reduce the risk of wandering.
Make sure they always have ID with them.
If an Alzheimer’s patient does wander off, they must have some form of identification to be easily identified and returned home safely. This could include a driver’s license, ID card, or even a piece of paper with their name and address.
Seek professional help
If you struggle to care for an Alzheimer’s patient, seek professional help from a home health agency or other resources. Many organizations can provide assistance and support to caregivers. Getting help from professionals can make it easier to manage the care of an Alzheimer’s patient and reduce the risks associated with wandering.
Memory care for your loved ones; The Club at Boynton Beach
The Club at Boynton Beach is an assisted living facility specializing in memory care. We provide a safe and secure environment for our residents, as well as a variety of activities and amenities to keep them engaged and active.
Our staff is specially trained to work with Alzheimer’s patients, and we offer 24-hour supervision to ensure their safety and well-being. With every stay at The Club, you can be confident that your loved one is receiving the best care.