Discovering that your senior is suddenly wandering can be absolutely terrifying for caregivers. Often people with dementia start to deliberately wander, either inside or even more frighteningly, outside the home. Here’s why it might be happening.
She Needs Something Specific and Basic
Basic needs are one of the biggest reasons your senior might start to wander. Things, like needing the bathroom or being hungry and being unable to meet that need on her own or communicate that need, can cause her to “search” for what she needs. This is where having a schedule can really help both you and your senior. A good schedule meets needs as they typically pop up.
Boredom Is a Big Problem
Lots of people think that people with dementia don’t get bored, but they can very easily get bored. Your senior still needs to be mentally stimulated throughout the day. She may also need to exercise a little bit during the day to help burn off excess energy. Talk with her doctor about some of the best ways to help her to manage boredom.
Emotions Are Running High
Big emotions can also cause your senior to feel the need to wander or even to “run away.” If something happens that causes you and others to become emotional, she may respond in a similar way even if she doesn’t fully understand what happened. Helping your senior to calm down and to understand what’s happening can help with this.
She’s Disoriented or Confused
It’s incredibly common for people with dementia to become confused or disoriented easily. This can happen even in familiar locations, which is one of many reasons why people with dementia really aren’t able to do a lot independently as the disease progresses. Your senior might be more confused in the afternoon than in the morning, so try to pay attention to when she does things like wandering so you can be a little more prepared.
Old Patterns and Habits Have Stuck with Her
For many people with dementia, older memories are the ones that are still crystal clear. Your senior may not remember that she’s retired and that she doesn’t need to go to work, but she may start to try to get ready for work on a daily basis and leave the house. There may be other factors contributing to this situation, but acting out those past behaviors can be difficult for her to understand.
It’s so difficult to manage wandering and all of the reasons it can occur. Working with home care providers can help you to stay on top of all of those variables, especially when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed yourself.