What Causes Aging Adults with Dementia to Wander?

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Wandering is one of the many symptoms of dementia in aging adults. However, wandering is usually caused by some triggering event that can be managed to prevent seniors from getting lost. It’s necessary for family caregivers to understand what causes wandering so they can help their senior loved ones address this behavior and lead healthy lives. Consider these possible causes of wandering to determine if you need to take additional precautions for your loved one’s safety. 

Attempts at Independence

When seniors wake up hungry in the middle of the night, they’ll naturally get out of bed and look for food. However, seniors with dementia may get lost in dark areas of their homes or wander out the front door and head for the grocery store if they believe it’s daytime. You can deter this behavior by providing plenty of small snacks throughout the day, especially after dinner if your loved one ate lightly. If your aging loved one gets up during the night, consider adding a sensor pad by the bed or recruit a live-in caregiver to watch over him or her at night. 

One of the most challenging tasks of helping an elderly relative age in place safely and comfortably is researching agencies that provide senior care. Turn to Home Care Assistance for reliable, high-quality in-home care for aging adults. We offer 24-hour live-in care for seniors who require extensive assistance, and we also offer respite care for family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties.

Not Enough Activity during the Day

Seniors need to get enough exercise during the day to encourage their bodies to rest when they go to sleep. Try to notice if there’s a pattern to your loved one’s wandering. For example, you might note that your loved one tends to wander more on days when you don’t take him or her outside for a walk. 

Your loved one may even wander out of boredom if you don’t direct him or her to a new activity after finishing another activity. Plan your loved one’s day so there’s a steady stream of both quiet and active interactions and restlessness is never a problem. 

Nightmares & Hallucinations

In the later stages of dementia, it gets harder for seniors to determine the difference between fantasy and reality. Hallucinations are one of the most upsetting symptoms that occur during these stages of dementia, and a senior may be tempted to flee what he or she believes is an unsafe area. 

When your loved one starts to wander, look for signs that he or she is experiencing a hallucination or nightmare, such as frantic movements or claims that someone or something was in his or her room. If this happens often, you might need to speak with a physician, who can prescribe medications to reduce hallucinations and help your loved one sleep through the night. 

Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Clearwater Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

Confusion in a Crowd or New Area

Caregivers for seniors with dementia often get worried about going on public outings. Your loved one may not mean to wander off, but he or she could still get lost in a crowd or forget where he or she is. This type of wandering can easily be prevented by planning outings in advance. For example, you can ask another caregiver to accompany you and your loved one so he or she isn’t alone when you go to the restroom or stand in a line.

Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Clearwater seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance. To hire a dedicated caregiver, call Home Care Assistance at (727) 330-7862 today.

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