Help for Elderly Father with Alzheimer's who Wanders

by Greg

My father has Alzheimer's and we are taking care of him in our home.

Are there any programs that provide help for elderly to identify people who might wander and not be able to find their way home?

REPLY from
Wandering is a common worry and danger for seniors with dementia. It is often a deciding factor in wanting to move a loved one into a nursing home where there is 24/7 supervision.

In regards to a wandering alert program:
Most communities have an elderly wandering alert program. Contact the local police station, public health authority and/or city hall for information.

They usually ask for some personal information such as name, phone number, address and recent photo.

The Alzheimer's Society also has a program - they partnered with MedicAlert and offer a USA nationwide wander registry and bracelet program.

Some tips to help caregivers prevent seniors from wandering include:

  • Have the senior wear an elderly medical alert bracelet with their personal information as well an emergency contact.
  • Install multiple locks on doors to outside and/or electric keypad locks or keyed deadbolt on the inside. Individuals with advanced dementia will have difficulty with multiple locks of differing styles - the more novel the better.
  • Keep current photos of them - including a face shot - in case your loved one does wander - it will help the search.
  • Notify neighbors of your senior' condition so they can notify you if they do see them wandering.
  • Consider installing a senior alarm that meets your needs such as:

    • motion detectors in the home.
    • door and window chimes/alarms to signal when they are opened.

  • Use baby monitors to monitor them when not in the room.
  • Paint exits the same color as the regular walls - blending them into the surroundings and making it less likely for them to open them.
  • If possible, try to create a wandering path if the house is large enough. Some houses can be set-up so senior walk in a loop - discouraging or limiting opportunity to exit house.

Wandering at night is often the most dangerous. Ensure your loved one is active during the day so they sleep better. Discourage napping, caffeine consumption in evening and ensure their room is sleep friendly (light blocking shades, etc).

Other Visitors: Please share more tips by commenting below.

Thank you,

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My 78 year old father has dementia and lives with us. We were starting to have problems with him leaving the home and wandering.

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We put in a house alarm where you can be inside and the door alarms if anyone leaves without entering the code. This works and he hasn't wandering since installing it.


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