What to Do if a Senior Loved One Wanders
If a loved one with dementia has wandered off, it is not an understatement to say that time is of the essence. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Nearly 93% of wanderers suffer no adverse consequences, if they are found within the first twelve hours.”
Thus, to ensure an elderly individual is returned home within the twelve hour window, it’s imperative to act quickly and with precision. The following will explore a brief guideline to follow if a senior loved one wanders off.
1. Search the immediate area where the person was last seen.
When an elderly individual disappears, it’s important to be as proactive as possible. Search the immediate space where they were last seen. Ask any bystanders if they saw your loved one. Reach out to neighbors to see if they spoke to or interacted with them.
2. Try and trace why your loved one may have wandered off.
There are many reasons that those with dementia wander. It could be the desire to go back to a childhood home, the need to fulfill a previous obligation, or a sense of restlessness that has caused them to roam away. By tracing these factors, you can potentially track the direction your loved one might have headed.
3. Use context clues to glean where they might have gone.
If your loved one has left their home, the best way to figure out where they went is to see what items they took. Are their car keys still there? Did they pack any luggage? By looking at the items that they took with them, you can try and glean their intent. You can also let the authorities know what personal items your loved one might be carrying.
4. Alert the authorities as soon as possible.
If your loved one has not been found within 15 minutes of their disappearance, it’s time to get the authorities involved. Call 911 and begin the steps of filling out a missing person report. In many cases, you don’t need to wait 24 hours for this request, as the rules differ for those living with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
5. Have someone waiting at home if your loved one returns.
While you enlist friends, family, and the authorities to search for your loved one, it’s important to have a designated person at home. This could be you, a trusted family member, or home health aide. The goal is to have a person at home base that can act as a beacon should your loved one wander back home.
If you have a loved one in your life who disappears or wanders often, contact someone who is experienced in-home health care, for options moving forward.