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What is wandering and how can it harm seniors?

On Behalf of | Oct 27, 2020 | Firm News |

You want the nursing home that houses your elder loved one to provide a safe and secure environment. This means that the facility should keep close tabs on the movements of its residents. If your relative feels the need to wander and the nursing home does not have measures to contain wandering, it could expose your loved one to serious harm or death. 

Wandering happens when a senior walks around without an apparent reason for doing so. This is a serious problem when it comes to seniors who suffer from dementia conditions like Alzheimer’s. 

Why do seniors wander? 

According to the Mayo Clinic, seniors wander for different reasons. Sometimes a senior feels lonely and wants to find someone to talk to. Basic needs, such as a need to use the bathroom, can also motivate wandering. An emotion like anxiety or agitation may prompt a senior to go find a more calming location. 

Seniors who suffer from dementia may wander because they are falling back into an aspect of their past lives. They may think they are at work and it is time to go home, or they may want to run an old errand like grocery shopping. They might seek out a spouse or an old friend without remembering that their loved ones are not there. 

What makes wandering dangerous?

Seniors who wander in a controlled and safe environment generally are not at high risk of injury, but if that location is not secure, the senior could wander outside. The wandering senior could face all sorts of risks, such as walking out into the street, stepping into a very hot or cold environment, or getting lost and away from aid. 

Wandering is also dangerous for seniors who are not physically able to walk unassisted. They may not know they are in a nursing home. They may forget that they have infirmities. They could easily slip and fall to the ground and suffer a broken bone or another life threatening injury. 

How should people deal with wandering?

Discussing the issue of wandering with a nursing home before you place your loved one there may help you to determine whether the facility is a good fit for your relative. You may work out measures to help keep your loved one safe, like making sure the home will be ready to meet the basic needs of your relative and provide a safe, stress free environment so your loved one does not feel the need to seek a calmer location. Ultimately, any nursing home should carefully monitor its residents and take the right steps to keep them from harm.