In the eldercare industry, it is sometimes called elopement—but most everyone else refers to it as wandering. It’s the occurrence of those with dementia becoming disoriented, forgetting where they are (or even who the are), and finding themselves in situations that might be risky or dangerous.
This is one of the most common symptoms of dementia; for example, among individuals with Alzheimer’s, more than half exhibit wandering behavior. Because of the dangers implicit, we would encourage caregivers to be mindful of the signs of wandering; and, when an individual is in a dementia care community, to ask about the safeguards in place to prevent wandering-related accidents or injuries.
What Families Should Know About Wandering
There are several early signs to suggest that your loved one is wandering—including:
- Returning from walks later than usual
- Getting lost on the way to familiar places
- Talking about “going home” even when at home
- General restlessness or agitation
- Difficulty locating familiar places—like the rooms in your home
- Anxiety in crowds or in busy areas—shopping malls, etc.
These are some of the warning signs of wandering, and again, our advice to family members and caregivers is to be mindful of the associated risks, and to seek help when needed.
What Dementia Care Communities Should Know About Wandering
Those who reside in dementia care communities can also exhibit signs of wandering, of course. This poses not only medical risks, but also legal risks for the community. In fact, insurance claims related to wandering injuries can incur costs that average more than $388,000. Such lawsuits are far from uncommon.
Thankfully, there is wander management technology that curbs these risks considerably—protecting the community, and more importantly, protecting the individual. To learn more about the benefits of this technology, and about some of the specific solutions available, we encourage you to contact Salient Networks.