Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients at Risk: 5 Tips to Prevent Wandering
If you subscribe to any local news apps, you may get regular push notifications alerting you of news you need to know. In doing this, you may find “silver alerts” regularly pop up. This is when a person is missing – especially senior citizens with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other mental disabilities – and an alert is sent to the public to aid in finding him or her. A simple search online will show that these are usually the result of wandering – and not every silver alert has a happy ending.
Three out of five people with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia will wander. Of those who wander, if he or she is not found within 24 hours, up to half of people who wander will suffer serious injury or death. Such was the case a few days ago, when 70-year-old Conan Lear Nelson was found a mile from his vehicle in the desert west of I-10 near Red Rock. He had been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
So what can family members, nursing homes, or group homes do to keep those with Alzheimer’s and dementia safe? Here are 5 tips to prevent wandering:
1.) Stick to a routine – the more structure, the better. Ensure all basic needs are met (toileting, nutrition, and thirst), but also try to incorporate exercise to reduce anxiety, agitation and restlessness.
2.) Reassure the person if he or she feels lost, abandoned or disoriented. You’ll want to avoid busy places (such as shopping malls) that are confusing because of this.
3.) Place deadbolts high and out of reach on doors. You’ll also want to secure your door handles to make them harder to open.
4.) Invest in a security system. Something as simple as door alarms can help others in the home know if a door has been opened. Cameras that record during certain hours (specifically at night) could also be helpful. That way if someone manages to leave, there is footage showing where he or she was headed.
5.) Perhaps most importantly, never leave someone with dementia alone and unsupervised – whether at home, in a car, or in a public place.
If someone does wander, search the immediate area for no more than 15 minutes. Then call “911” to report that a vulnerable adult with Alzheimer’s disease is missing. A Missing Report should be filed and police will begin searching. You’ll also want to file a report with MedicAlert+ Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return at 1-800-625-3780. This is a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for individuals with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia who wander or have a medical emergency – regardless of when or where the person is reported missing. You do not need to be enrolled in MedicAlert+ Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return in order to file a missing report.
Nursing home wandering incidents are preventable and cause considerable grief, injury, and distress when they aren’t prevented. Efforts to hold nursing homes accountable for these injuries and deaths in Arizona are best undertaken by the expert Phoenix elder abuse attorneys at Knapp & Roberts. We have ample experience and know how difficult it is for families who have already been through the trauma of a family member wandering off, and now face a tough fight with the nursing home. Get some help today. Call us today for a free review of the incident. There’s no cost to you unless we take and win your case. Don’t wait until it is too late. Time restrictions are in place, so call 480-991-7677 or fill out the Do I Have a Case form today.
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