Summary: Many assisted living residents live restless lives, and may wander to help cope with their anxiety and restlessness. However, a resident wanders, and they also suffer from dementia or Alzheimer's, a potential safety concern surfaces. We also include an original video interview with a facility owner who talks about steps she has taken to properly secure her facility to prevent wandering residents.
New : I have added a video "usability test' on this page of a lifesaving device to prevent wandering!
Written By: David Besnette - Founder/Editor for Assisted Living Directory
One of the most common news subjects I see come out of the Assisted Living industry is of residents who wander off of the premises of their assisted living facility or care setting, only to either be found later, scared and
confused, or to be found deceased. The most recent one I read was only a few days ago of a woman from Long Beach, California suffering from dementia and takes medication, who wandered away from an emergency room. The disturbing thing about this
was, apparently, the assisted living facility where she resided did not notify her family for 10 days.
It is a common way to deal with restlessness - going for a walk. Many assisted living facilities have ample hallways or grounds to allow for walking. This is a nice evolution in assisted living and long-term care - as the facilities of yesteryear were more prison-like, and residents were often behind lock and key for most of the day.
However, when a resident is prone to wandering, and the resident suffers from dementia or Alzheimer's, or any other mental disorder, then precautions must be taken to ensure their safety. Many facilities now have only one entry/exit point that is monitored carefully. Others employ ankle or wrist bracelets to help track their residents. If it isn't in the mainstream already, then it is only a matter of time before facilities use GPS (global positioning systems) devices to track their residents' locations precisely at all times.
Facilities can also help residents cope by offering exercise classes and equipment. Treadmills and stationary bikes can be a great way to burn off the restlessness, and also improve well-being. Other classes such as yoga and meditation can also help residents to calm their nerves.
I think about a bumper sticker that I see from time to time that says "All who wander aren't really lost." In the case of those in an assisted living or senior care home environment, they very well may be lost.
How To Prevent Wandering: Our Usability Test of a Lifesaving Device to Stop Seniors From Wandering:
I have been fortunate this year to have been able to get my hands on a device, through Project Lifesaver's new division "PAL" which stands for "Protect and Locate." This device is both a tracking unit, and a watch that is intended for caregivers, families, or assisted living owners or administrators, and those who might be prone to wandeirng.
This device is available to anyone, and I found it to be extremely easy to use, and reliable. You can view my Video Usability test here (important note: I do not receive any compensation by having done this testing. I did this on my own time, since it is such an important topic to me):