Published: 26 September 2022
Preventing wandering is almost impossible! I have read and heard lots of comments on wandering where the most negative judgement is passed on the carers and families, suggesting neglect and a lack of attention which is of course absolute rubbish and highlights the lack of understanding, lack of awareness and lack of education surrounding Alzheimer's and other memory issues.
If your loved one really wants to leave the house, they will find a way despite the precautions you have taken. Even when you are out together there is the chance of wandering. Paying for shopping or putting money in the parking meter only takes a minute or two but that's enough time for a person to wander out of sight.
Your loved one has possibly never wandered, but this doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. Here are some of the steps you can take before and during a wandering episode.
• Call the Emergency Services immediately. DO NOT WAIT. Our first instinct is to do our own search, but we can only cover so much ground and the more people looking, the better. The Emergency Services will NEVER see it as a waste of their time, as time really is of the essence when dealing with vulnerable people. Getting your loved one home unharmed is all that matters so do not be afraid to ask for all the help you can get.
• Have a photo ready. Try to take a photo at least once every couple of months and have it ready on your phone/tablet/laptop or print it out if you want to. We often forget how much people change so an updated photo is particularly important.
• Make a note of anything about them which could help with rapid identification. Do they wear glasses or a hearing aid? Do they have any visible moles or scars?
• Make a list of medications and health conditions. This can be particularly useful in many situations such as an accident or a wandering episode. Medications can change frequently so make a point of updating the list each time a medication changes, stops, dosage changes etc.
• Calming information: What can people do to help your loved one when they are found, particularly if they are distressed or to help them stay calm? Is there a type of music or film they love? Can they ask them about, or discuss a previous profession or hobby? Providing this information helps people to help your loved ones.
• Have they previously wandered? Make a note of where they were going and where they were found. People with memory issues often focus on an earlier time in their lives so their home address as they remember it now may be from 20 years ago. Maybe they were trying to get to their work from 10 years ago. If you make a note of where they were going and where they were found this could help in a future search.
Keep all of the information together in one place, somewhere prominent because in the panic of the moment it is extremely easy to forget vital information as our minds tend to go blank. (When you register with Wrist-Assured you can add all of this information to your personal account allowing you to be prepared for all types of emergencies).
Easier said than done but try not to feel guilty if a wandering episode occurs! Despite taking the necessary precautions wandering can, and does still happen so you can only do your best to be prepared.