Wednesday, March 5, 2014


I did a radio show yesterday and the topic was wandering. If your loved one does this you indeed know the stress this causes for you the family member and caregiver.

During the discussion there were many takes on wandering and what can be done to prevent it. My take was and always will be you can't prevent wandering.

Wandering is caused by dementia. Dementia is a disease of the brain. You can't "fix" it. This is another way where people want a "fix" to the wandering problem.

Not all patients wander. Some may never, some may wander every chance they get. The thing is it only takes once.

I was very criticle on facilities. I believe there is no way a patient should every have the opportunity to wander in a facility. If it does happen it's because of something the facility did, or most likely did not do.

In facilities for dementia patients we all know these places are secured. And in some cases that's as far as it goes. And hence you get wandering.

There has to be more obstacles in place than just a secure entrance to the facility. Just the fact that patients do wander out of these places tells you that.

There needs to be alarms on all the exits. There needs to be motion detectors in place, closed caption tv's installed in appropriate places.

And most of all there has to be more human interaction. If the employees there have to check on these patients every ten or fifteen minutes, then that is what needs to be done.

Most will say they haven't the resources to do this. What they are really saying is it's a money thing.

Here's the deal. If your loved one does get out of a facility and God forbid something tragic happens, it will be a money thing for the facility. A money thing in the way of compensation for the family.

Here locally, unbelievably, we have a facility that has had on two separate occasions, two people wander off. There is a small lake at this facility and both times the patients were found in the lake, having drowned.

No I can't fathom this happening once, let alone twice. But it did. Patients are going to wander. That is a fact. Not all, and they may not do this constantly.

But like I said, it only takes once. For those of you who are dealing with this in your home you have to take precautions that this doesn't happen.

There are many things on the market to help you do this. They have alarm pads that go on the bed that will go off if the patient gets out of bed in the middle of the night.

You can get a relatively inexpensive alarm device that go on your doors that will sound an alarm if they are opened.

Some will say secure the door so they can't get out. I am not for this. Of course you want you doors locked but to use a dead bolt or whatever to make it so your loved one cannot get out is very dangerous.

If there's a fire, and the deadbolt is locked this could be deadly. If you are incapacitated for whatever reason and can't unlock the deadbolt for instance.

Motion detectors is another inexpensive way to guard against wandering. We have these and alarms on all our exterior doors. We set the alarm pad each night, and if there is any movement in the house, or if a door is open the alarm goes off.

Again, there is an expense involved with alarm systems, but you have to prevent this happening. It's just not going to go away.

I talked yesterday about taking a picture of your loved one every morning. If they would somehow get out, the first thing law enforcement is going to want to get a description of your loved one.

Use your cell to do this. It doesn't cost a thing. And can be so valuable. And of course a medical alert tag of some sort for the patient to wear. This too is priceless.

Safe Return Medical Bracelet is what I wear. You can find them by clicking the link below. They run about $50 a year, but priceless to what a medical alert tag can provide to anyone who would find your loved one.

You must takes steps if your loved one wanders. This is not going to go away. And it is crucial to have some things even if they don't wander.

Wandering like everything else has to start sometime. There are patients who have never wandered before. But all it takes is that first time.

There is a sense of fear, terror, and sheer panic that comes over the family when their loved one wanders off. You do not want to deal with this. Not to mention what the patient is going through.

My thinking is with wandering is that the patient is looking for something or someone familiar. This of course won't happen, because of the disease.

Do anything and everything you can to prevent this. You do not want your loved one to become a statistic, and it can happen in the blink of an eye...