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What Leads to Wandering in Aging Adults with Dementia?

By Jonathan Wells, 9:00 am on

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 is necessary for caregivers to understand what causes wandering so as to help seniors manage this behavior and lead a healthy life.  

Maintaining a high quality of life can be challenging for some seniors, but professional caregivers can help them obtain this goal. Families can trust in Douglas County, CO, senior care experts to help their elderly loved ones focus on lifestyle choices that increase the chances of living a longer and healthier life. Consider these possible causes for 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 will naturally get out of bed and look for food. However, many seniors with dementia get lost in dark areas of a house, or wander out the front door and head for the grocery store if they believe it is daytime. Caregivers can deter this behavior by providing plenty of small snacks throughout the day, especially after dinner if the senior 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 stay up through the evenings and watch over him or her.

If your elderly loved one needs live-in care in Douglas County, turn to Home Care Assistance. We offer a program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to focus on eating nutritious foods, exercising on a regular basis, maintaining strong social ties, and other lifestyle factors known to increase longevity.

Not Enough Activity During the Day

Seniors may need to get enough exercise during the day to encourage their body to rest when they go to sleep. Try to notice if there is 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 do not direct him or her to a new activity after finishing another activity. Plan your loved one’s day so there is a steady stream of both quiet and active interactions and restlessness is never a problem.

Nightmares and 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 to occur during this stage of dementia, and seniors may be tempted to flee what they believe 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.

Confusion in a Crowd or New Area

Caregivers of seniors with dementia often get worried about going on public outings. Your loved one may not mean to wander off, but he or she can 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 is not alone when you go to a 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. Douglas County seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to slow cognitive decline 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 learn about our patent approach to dementia care, get in touch with one of our friendly Care Managers at 720-287-1685.