The Real Risk of Wandering

One of the most concerning and frantic feelings comes from when a family member and loved one wanders and becomes lost. Families, communities and law enforcement alike are brought together to find that missing person.

According to Home Instead Senior Care network, nearly 50% of family members surveyed have experienced a loved one with Alzheimer’s wandering or getting lost and in addition, six out of 10 adultswith Alzheimer’s or another form of Dementia will have a tendency to wander. Wandering and getting lost is common among people with dementia and can happen during any stage of the disease.

When someone is living with Alzheimer’s, Dementia, autism or other neurological memory disorders, there are times when sights and sounds (i.e, a police or ambulance siren) may frighten them to misinterpret their environment and cause them to wander away from their known familiar places. Similarly, when the individual is in a crowded and over stimulating environment, they may wander away to escape the commotion.

Other reasons why an individual may wander away from a safe place, including their own home, is when they may not recognize the new space and aim to return to a place that recollects to them as being safe, such as a past workplace.  Also, when a high change in routine occurs, the individual may become confused of their surroundings and seek solitude elsewhere.

Luckily, in some incidents the wide connections of social media and law enforcement in the communities results in the wanderer being able to return home, safely. However, there are times the incident ends in tragedy for someone who is lost and confused in an unfamiliar place. In July 2016, 90 year-old Bonnie Walker was reported missing from her senior assisted-living facility. After having slipped down a ravine while she was walking, Ms. Walker was later found dead after sustaining blunt force injuries from an alligator following her fall.

There are many resources for caregivers and family members of someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of Dementia who has a tendency to wander. Whether support is needed for the caregiver or if a technological device, such as the GPS SmartSole is needed to monitor the user’s whereabouts, there are options for a wanderer. One incident of wandering is one too many and it is highly suggested to address the situation before a loved one becomes lost and tragedy ensues.