Wandering Assisted Living Residents

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Wandering In Assisted Living Homes

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!

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.

She is still missing as of this writing.

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.

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Video Produced by Assisted Living Directory

Questions to ask any prospective facility include:

  • Do they have 24-hour security and staffing?
  • Where are the entry/exit points?
  • Do they keep a thorough, up-to-date emergency and family contact list?
  • Have there been any previous incidents with missing residents?
  • What are the staff procedures if an alarm sounds?

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):

Responses to this article:

Erika Wrote:

medux.org has a new product coming out that actually can track in doors but also within a 3 km radius in urban areas as well as will be incorporating real time sensor data to establish patients baselines , so when they show signs of wandering it tells the staff to monitor this person closely. So basically they are stopping the wandering from ever happening.

24 January 2017 at 1:24 pm

Erika Wrote:

a nurse in california built a device that prevents them from wandering called SensiCare. The company’s name is MendUX. Erika

19 December 2016 at 4:24 pm

Ed Wrote:

ake a very close look at ELB Technologies “Guard Wander Management System”. It really works, no stupid false alarms, picks up every tag, and ties into any nurse call system. No wire mold running around the doors that looks ugly.

1 February 2014 at 8.22 am

Ralph Wrote:

While I was a police officer I found out about SafetyNet by LoJack for people at risk of wandering. It works ! ralph [email protected]

28 July 2013 at 8.14 am

Nicholas Wrote:

Great video – the owner of the facility in your interview (Jean?) really seems to know what she is talking about. i know a few facilities that could learn a bit from her!

24 June 2013 at 2.12 pm

Marge Wrote:

Seems like every single day in the news there is another senior out in the streets who got out of their facility or home. How does this always happen?

15 April 2013 at 4.35 pm

Secure Care Wrote:

Try looking over Secure Care Products Wandering resident solutions at www.securecare.com

[email protected]

21 June 2012 at 12.34 pm

Margaret Wrote:

I think the future of security and stopping wandering might be with the implementation of GPS tracking devices, or wristbands to put on seniors. Maybe this has already been invented, but I haven’t heard of it. Seems like it would solve some of the problems with this.

14 May 2012 at 7.33 am

Davos Wrote:

It is a little scary to see how lax some facilities are with their security and front doors. I’ve seen people come in and out with very little monitoring.

28 November 2011 at 7.44 am