Practical help staying safe wandering – dementia.Getting out of bed walking at night is stressful, in particular when accompanied by disruptions of sleep
Wandering can be a real worry for families and often for the individual with the dementia diagnosis. It is a subject that is often discussed when talking about dementia. We look at how these worries can be addressed practically so that everyone is reassured as far as possible and that all measures have been taken to ensure the safety of the person with dementia.
Wandering can cause concern in different ways. The person with dementia may get out of bed and wander around at night, some people will forget where they are going and even where they came from. Wandering may include pacing, walking in circles, the appearance of being restless but with more energy than usual. Searching for someone or something in the past can be very common.
The perception of wandering often brings a negative response from loved ones and carers. This is usually because wandering around can be sporadic, difficult to monitor effectively and because the person with dementia can become distressed as they lose the sense of what they feel they should be doing or thinking. But, often, for the person with dementia, the repetitive action of walking is comforting for the person and there is not another function behind this action other than to lessen anxiety through the movement itself.
It is important to accept that there may not be a reason behind the wandering. This can go some way in helping you rationalise the behaviour and reduce any frustration by trying to find the cause of the wandering.
At other times the wandering may present as total disorientation, failure to recognise where they are or to find where they want to go. This wandering can be accompanied by agitation. One possible cause of this is monotony created by a lack of purposeful activity and they may be trying to reduce their feelings of discomfort or trying to use up surplus energy.
If the wandering is due to a surplus of energy or lack of direction, try to have the person you care for partake in daily exercise. Similarly, try to arrange tasks to keep them from getting restless. Make sure the tasks are chosen by the person with dementia as far as is possible, allowing the person to have as much independence as possible. They may like to become involved in every day tasks such as dusting, watering the garden or setting the table. Recreational activities such as dancing, playing cards or puzzles may prove to be a useful pastime.
If you are out walking with the person you care for and they are determined to walk in different direction to the one intended, walk with them and gradually change course towards home. It may help to divert their attention such as by asking them if they are hungry, if they would like to see the dog etc.
Safety becomes more of a worry when the person with the diagnosis becomes more confused. Try to make sure they cannot leave the house without you knowing it. Monitors strategically placed can help can help track movement in the house without the need to follow someone around. Place warning bells on doors leading to the outside so you will know when someone is trying to leave the house.
Install locks on all outside windows and doors, especially if the person is prone to wandering. If a person can open a lock because it is familiar, install an alternative lock which is higher up or lower down. Remove locks on bathroom doors to prevent a person from accidentally locking herself or himself in.
Practical help staying safe wandering – dementia. Getting out of bed walking at night is stressful, in particular when accompanied by disruptions of sleep. If the person with dementia is prone to wandering and attempts to leave their home, keep a recent photo to hand in case of emergencies. It may also be useful to enlist the help of close neighbours to keep a close eye them.
When the person you care for returns home after wandering, stay composed and supportive. It is important to contain your frustration or feelings of fear because this could result in the person becoming more agitated or anxious. It is helpful to involve them in their regular routine as quickly as possible.
Talking Alarm Clock with Hands and Digital Display
There are a number of clocks available on the market which can be useful for people with dementia in that they can help make individuals aware of what time of day or night it is.
The talking alarm clock has both a large clear face and a voice so is helpful for people who cannot see very clearly
By pressing the large top button the quartz analogue clock will speak the time in a clear tone. The Talking Alarm Clock has both a clear analogue face and a digital display. This Clock also has an alarm and the option to have an hourly announcement, choice of 3 alarm sounds.