Wandering is one of the most common behaviors exhibited by those living with Alzheimer’s disease. In some, episodes it can last for a few days, while in others it can go on for months or even years. Many times wandering is brought on by a feeling of anxiety. It can also signal a change in the progression of the disease or an infection in your loved one.
It is also one of the most frustrating, scary and draining periods for the caregiver, as they feel the need to always be on high alert. However, if you can take a step back and look at the behavior of wandering as simply the disease trying to speak for your loved one, it may help you understand and provide you with the patience to enter into their wandering world.
For example every afternoon your eighty year-old Mother begins pacing and trying to leave the house. She says that she needs to meet the kids at the bus. Our normal reaction would be to explain to Mom that her kids are grown and that she doesn’t need to meet the bus any more. While in some cases this may work, in others it may increase Mom’s anxiety level and as result escalate her behaviors.
Instead, you could try telling her that it’s not time for the bus or that the bus is running late and then redirect her with another activity. You could also bring Mom a chair so that she can sit and wait for the bus, again providing her with another activity to do while she waits. Each of these examples is a form of entering into her world as they validate her feelings and may reduce her anxiety level. By switching her focus to another activity it may divert her from her need to leave.
You could also try engaging her in a conversation about her kids and slowly navigating the conversation towards other topics. Take her for a walk to help release her anxiety, arrange for her “kids” to call and say they will be late or find an activity for her to engage in such as listening to music, sorting socks or another hobby that she finds enjoyable.
Try and find out why your loved one is wanting to go and where are they trying to get to. Use your knowledge of their personal history to understand the significance of their need to wander. Perhaps Dad wants to go back to the farm or Mom is trying to go out to her garden. Are there ways that you can help them attain this goal, without it causing them harm or you frustration?
For Dad maybe taking him for a drive out in the country or looking at pictures of the farm will suffice. Maybe Mom would like to go for a garden stroll through an area park or green house. Other ideas are to put in a secured fence around your backyard so that your loved ones can safely go outside.
You may also want to consider looking into locks or alarms for your doors and windows, so that if your loved one did ever feel the need to leave you would be made aware of their efforts. Lastly, if you are worried that your loved one may wander off when you are in public look into getting a locator device that will sound an alarm should you loved one get more than a few feet from you.
No matter what your solution, if you take the time and effort to enter your loved one’s world of wandering you will have listened to them in a whole way. In addition, most likely you will have also helped them safely navigate through their wandering world.
My father has been here only a little over 2 months. The positive change in him has been DRAMATIC! I would HIGHLY recommend Azura........ I would give it 10 stars if they allowed it! This is the premier facility for any family member with cognitive issues! They do treat residents like family, believe it!
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The staff at Oak Creek are all fabulous! It takes special people to care for our loved ones. If has been a trying year for all and the staff at oak creek get a shout out for their kindness and compassion they give to my mom and the others. They have all gone above and beyond to make things seem as normal as possible for my mom! All of the staff have been so helpful and kind! They are all fabulous!!
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"We want to thank you for the loving special care you took of our mother, Diane. It was truly mom's home and you all became part of our family. Everything was home for her....from the beautiful rooms, large sunny windows all around, good food made with love, fun and personal activities from people who really loved our mom. We would highly recommend your facility to anyone. The staff from the director, to the doctor, to the nurse, to the caregivers and the maintenance man were all extremely helpful, caring, loving and professional. There are not enough words to say how much we appreciate all of you. Your exceptional care, kindness, and love were beyond anything we could have imagined. You were part of our family, and we will miss you." - Gail Sommers and Deborah Guse
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Just moved my sister-in-law to Azura Stoughton on February 12th. I feel like I’ve found a little piece of dementia heaven. The staff has gone way beyond my expectations to meet her needs and take time to know her. Anyone who has dementia deserves the TLC they receive at Azura. I’m so impressed.
Review posted by Gail Aaroen
Thank you to the Azura Memory Care team, Sheboygan location for the amazing, loving care they provided my dad. They truly loved and cared for my dad as if he was their own. It is such a warm, loving, family environment I only wish we would have moved my dad there years earlier!
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I have enjoyed working with patients at Azura Care as a Physical Therapist Assistant. The staff has been very helpful in sharing important information about the patients to make their therapy sessions as productive as possible. They are open to learning techniques to help keep patients safe and improve their ability to perform daily tasks with less assistance. Their interactions with patients show caring and compassion with a focus on the needs of each individual to enjoy the best quality of life possible.
Review posted by Barb Eisenberg
The journey of caregiving for my Aunt started over 4 years ago. It has been a very long difficult journey. It is hard to watch and frustrating to watch a loved one decline, as well as for them to live the decline. My Aunt found her final peace at Azura Memory Care in Sheboygan. It was not only her peace but mine as well. I no longer had to worry about her care as I could see that she was loved by her Azura family. She passed away on June 21 and they knew how important that it was for me to be there, but I also found peace that if I was not there, she was with family that loved her. No words can express the appreciation for the care, compassion and love that they have for all their residents. God has opened many doors through my journey and the doors at Azura were truly a gift from God. This family made a difference in a long journey. I will always have them in my thoughts and prayers. They are where and doing what they are meant to do!