Long-time Californian Lee Ferrero hopped into his car to go home after a work meeting. He had been making the trip for decades, but as his trip went along, things didn’t go as planned. After a few hours later, he somehow found himself in an open farmland in unfamiliar territory. After pulling out a few maps, he then realized that he unknowingly drove two hours past the turnoff to his home. A visit to a specialist later confirmed that Ferrero, 64, was already in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Aimless wandering is a common symptom of Alzheimer’s, and it is estimated that about six in every ten people with the condition exhibit the behavior. Wandering can happen in various contexts like on foot or while driving, and the Alzheimer’s Association says that wanderers not found within 24 hours are highly likely to suffer serious injuries or worse.
Either way, wandering is a rather alarming symptom that can obviously put an Alzheimer’s patient in danger. Fortunately, preventing such a situation from occurring is possible with a few safety precautions. First and foremost, it’s extremely ill-advised to leave the person at home alone, left with nothing to do. If no family member can tend to the patient at all times, hiring a caregiver from local Fairfax, VA elder care providers like Comfort Keepers of Fairfax, VA can help significantly.
Maintaining companionship is absolutely critical in a wandering Alzheimer’s patient. This is because the wandering behavior is largely an effect of various symptoms related to inactivity—the patient looks to roam about in order to relieve boredom and/or pain and discomfort, get more exercise, seek fulfillment or relive long lost memories. A trained professional who offers senior home care in Fairfax, VA can keep a patient busy with planned activities, which can distract the elder from wandering (more so if the patient wanders at the same time everyday).
Aside from keeping a patient company, a few handy tricks can also prevent wandering. For instance, hanging “Stop” or “Do Not Enter” signs can help, as well as securing doors that make them difficult to open. Camouflaging doorknobs or doors using cloth or curtains can also help divert the wandering elder’s attention, and as a means of anticipating the worst case scenario, furnishing the patient with enough identification and updated contact details can also minimize risks.
How To Limit Alzheimer’s Wandering, CNN, November 10, 2011
How To Stop The Alzheimer’s Wandering Crisis, APlaceForMom.com, October 9, 2013
Strategies To Deal With An Alzheimer’s Patient Who Wanders, EveryDayHealth.com
Walking About, Alzheimers.org.uk
Alzheimer’s: Understand And Control Wandering, MayoClinic.org