Wandering is a big concern for people with certain cognitive problem caused by conditions such as autism, Down syndrome, and dementia.
Wandering can be extremely stressful for family and caregivers, so here are some tips to help decrease the chance of wandering:
- Secure the home
If your loved one lives with you, a simple solution is to hang bells on the doors, so you’ll be alerted any time they open. If you have a home security system, it will often have the seam feature. If you do not live with your loved one, it can be more difficult to keep an eye on them. One thing you can do is change the locks on the doors and windows to make them more difficult to open. If you’d really like to monitor them more closely, you can invest in a home monitoring system that alerts you when he/she leaves the house. There are some even more advanced systems that will track their daily routine and can alert you if the routine changes.
- Make sure your loved one always carries ID
While it does not help decrease wandering, it is crucial to have. There are several ways to make sure that your loved one keeps some kind of ID on them:
- Make sure that there is an ID card in his/her wallet
- Use medical ID jewelry
- Sew ID into clothing
- Use radio tracking devices
If your loved one already wears medical ID jewelry, jewelry with radio tracking could be a good idea as well. Some of these devices are sort-range so that caregivers can monitor the person themselves. These devices sound an alarm on the bracelet and the home unit when the person gets too far away from home. Other devices like this use a service that will pinpoint the person’s location and work with local law enforcement to get them home.
- Register with an organization
Organizations like Project Lifesaver and the Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return program give out small personal transmitter devices. Like the devices mentioned in number 3, if a person goes missing the device sends out an individualized tracking signal. Once you or the caregiver is alerted, notify the organization, and they work with trained, local emergency teams to find the individual.
- Get to know the neighbors
Neighbors can be a great resource, so make sure you know your/ your loved one’s neighbors. Make sure to let them know that your loved one s prone to wandering and ask them to reach out to you if they ever notice them around the neighborhood alone.
- Put up a fence
It might seem like a simple solution, but a fence with a secure gate will allow your loved one to get fresh air without the worry of wandering.
If your loved one does wander, make sure not to panic. The best thing you can do is call 911 and alert the authorities. Once you’ve called them and any organizations your loved one is registered with, you can look on your own.