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Wanderlust: Keeping Alzheimer's Patients Safe

by Stella Robinson

The loss of memory that characterizes Alzheimer's disease can often result in the desire to wander. In fact, research shows that three out of every five Alzheimer's care patients will wander at some point. Patients with Alzheimer's could sustain serious injury during an episode of wandering, so taking precautions to keep them safe is important.

If you are the primary caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease, here are three tactics you can use to keep your loved one safe:

1. Take precautions to prevent your loved one from leaving the house.

While wandering within the home can be dangerous, Alzheimer's patients who wander away from home could get into real trouble. By taking the necessary precautions to prevent your loved one from leaving the house, you can reduce their chances of sustaining a serious injury in the future.

Some affordable strategies you might want to try include: installing locks out of the line of sight, camouflaging door knobs by painting them to match the color of the door, and hanging bells from door knobs to alert you to movement. These precautions will help deter your loved one from wandering away from home.

2. Always make sure your loved one has identification.

In the event your loved one does manage to wander away from home, it could be impossible for a passerby to provide help if they are unable to obtain contact information. Since Alzheimer's patients likely won't remember basic information like their name or address, ensuring your loved one has identification at all times is essential.

Instead of relying on identifications cards, which can easily be removed from a wallet or purse and left behind, try investing in temporary tattoos containing your contact information instead. These tattoos are a great way to ensure that the authorities will be able to quickly return a loved one who has wandered away from home.

3. Dress your loved one in brightly colored clothing.

Many Alzheimer's patients enjoy spending time with their family members, but this can often mean being part of a crowd of people. Since those with Alzheimer's disease can become disoriented in a crowd, it is easier for them to wander off in these situations. By making the choice to dress your loved one in brightly colored clothing you will increase your chances of quickly spotting him or her before too much time passes.

In addition to helping you keep your eye on your loved one, brightly colored clothing can also act as a mood enhancer. You will both benefit from investing in some brightly colored clothing before your next public outing.

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease can be difficult. By taking precautions to prevent injury should your loved one wander, you will be able to rest easier at night.