What to Do When a Loved One with Dementia Wanders Off

Rear view of a senior woman with walking frame at home

Wandering off is arguably one of the biggest risk factors and fears when it comes to caring for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. If your loved one with dementia has wandered off, you need to act immediately. Should your loved one ever go missing, here are some immediate steps to take from our Tapestries Memory Care team in South Jersey.

  1. Search the surrounding area. Those who wander are usually found within a half-mile from where they were seen last. Check inconspicuous and familiar places in and near the home like hall closets, the basement, or the garden. If possible, send other family members into the neighborhood to look for your loved one. Enlisting the help of others will help you cover more ground at a quicker pace.
  2. Call the police. If you cannot find mom or dad within 15-20 minutes, call 911 and file a missing person’s report. It’s important to mention that your loved one is an older adult who has Alzheimer’s disease and memory issues. Police will wait to begin their search for your loved one until 24 hours have passed unless they are made aware of these details regarding their memory impairments. You should also give police identifying characteristics to look out for like their bright red shirt or large sun hat.
  3. Lean on family and friends for support. After your senior parent goes missing, it’s normal to feel distressed, sadness, shock, and guilt, which can cause you to make irrational decisions. With that in mind, contact your closest family and friends to help support you during this time, while following the instructions of the police and other search teams.
  4. Stay put. Have family, friends, and others continue searching while you stay put in one place. Even though your gut instinct will be to get involved with the search, sometimes it’s better to remain at the scene in case your loved one returns on their own. It’s also important to keep your phone lines open so that you can be easily reached by everyone else who is out looking for mom or dad.
  5. Call dementia hotlines. Consider calling in broader resources to help. You can call local Alzheimer’s hotlines in your area or reach out to national ones like the National Silver Alert Program or Safe Return.

Dementia wandering prevention for seniors in Camden County

One of the best ways your loved one can remain safe and avoid wandering away from home is by moving to a secure, professional memory care setting in a senior community. At Collingswood, our Tapestries® memory care neighborhood has a welcoming, dementia-safe apartments where seniors are safe to enjoy their hobbies and have meaningful experiences every day. Our security personnel, as well as Life Enrichment Team Specialists, are on site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to ensure your loved one is well taken care of at all times.

If your loved one is showing early signs of dementia and you are having difficulty caring for them, please call 856-369-3092 to find out whether a move to a dedicated memory care apartment is the right option for them, and you. To learn more about Tapestries memory care in Camden County, please contact United Methodist Communities at Collingswood or visit our website at: https://umcommunities.org/collingswood/

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