Dangers of wandering with dementia in the winter months

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Six out of ten people with dementia will wander and possibly become lost at some point of their disease.

"They might be looking for a family member, sometimes they think they have to go to work so they will leave the house thinking, 'it’s time to go to work, I need to get out," said Marie Ross, the care counselor of the Alzheimer's association.

But wandering can be dangerous and life threatening especially in the U.P. where temperatures are cold and areas are rural.

"They lack the executive function to take to retrace their steps," added Ross. "They may leave the house and not be able to retrace their steps in order to get home."

The Alzheimer’s Association suggests the Medic Alert and Safe Return Program where the person with dementia can wear a medical bracelet with contact information if they ever are lost.

However caregivers can modify their house to try prevent wandering in the first place.

"Make sure there are proper locks on the doors," said Ross. "They can add other things to the door to disguise the door like putting a towel over the door handle or caregivers can also limit reasons to the person with dementia go outside."

And assisted living facilities and memory care homes recognize the importance of security too.

"It is locked for their safety and we do have redirect residents," said Neal Crothers, the executive director for Brookridge Heights. "We do have a lot of windows here and makes them a part of the outside without the risk of the outside."

And for those residents that come across a door that leads to the outside, once they press against it an alarm will sound and alert staff immediately.

"They can’t go outside because of the ice and so forth, but we do have walking programs and we do have a lot of square footage in this building so they are able to walk around," said Crothers.

For more information about wandering, click here.



 
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