Not necessarily. The symptoms are different for all dementia patients. But there’s no way to know if your loved one will wander until he actually does it.
One of the best things you can do is to register your loved one – as soon as he/she is diagnosed! – in the Alzheimer’s Association’s “Safe Return” program. You can find information about this program at the website (alz.org), or at your local Alzheimer’s Association. When you enroll your loved one, you’ll choose a piece of jewelry for her to wear (most folks choose a bracelet), with the association’s logo on one side and an identification number on the other.
It’s wise to remember that your loved one may become suspicious at your request to wear this new piece of jewelry… which is why many caregivers also order one for themselves.
There are ways to guard against wandering, both high-tech and common sense. For example, you can visit electronics stores and see what might be appropriate. You can shop online at the Alzheimer’s Store (alzstore.com), which has some good safety products. You can hire agencies to asses your home for dangers to seniors with dementia. And, of course, you can visit Alzheimer’s support groups, to learn what others in your situation might be doing.
If your loved one does begin to wander, take immediate action. Put a baby monitor in his room so you can hear when he gets up. Install recommended safety devices. Tell your neighbors to be on the lookout. And ask your physician if there’s anything that can be done medically.
Also, get a copy of “The 36-Hour Day,” by Nancy Mace and Peter Rabins. It’s a good guide to what to expect on the Alzheimer’s Journey.
The Law Offices of Alice Reiter Feld & Associates is an Elder Law firm. Over the past 33 years, we’ve walked thousands of South Florida families through the Alzheimer’s Journey, with professionalism, with compassion, and, if needed, with a soft shoulder. And we’ve helped them prepare long before Alzheimer’s – or any other problem with an aging loved one – hits, with comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, long-term care planning, asset protection, and assistance with Medicaid or VA issues.
We can walk you through the Alzheimer’s Journey. And we’re just a phone call away.
Does Every Alzheimer’s Patient Wander?