Alzheimer’s and Wandering: Tips to Deter a Dangerous Behavior

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Wandering-leaving the home unannounced-is a serious problem that needs to be prevented. Wandering can lead to danger and even death when an impaired person walks alone on busy streets, in strange neighborhoods, or in very hot or cold weather. Never forget that the confused person may no longer possess the judgment to navigate safely in these once “normal” environments.

If your loved one has shown any tendency to wander, here are three simple steps that can help discourage or prevent this behavior:

1. Install locks on all exit doors. A second lock placed high or low on the door will add more security and could be enough to thwart a confused person who was able get the first lock opened. However, it is important to be sure that you can operate both locks so there is no danger in case of a house fire.

2. Add childproof doorknobs. These oversized plastic devices slip over the home’s existing doorknobs. Unless the confused person figures out that the plastic needs to be continually squeezed in order to turn the doorknob, they won’t be able to open the door.

3. Secure all windows. If possible, install special devices that prohibit the windows from being fully raised by patients. This will deter the person from squeezing through.