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FACTS ABOUT WANDERING

"Wandering" is the term used when a resident leaves the facility without staff knowledge. Residents who wander are either confused or have some degree of memory loss or dementia. While wandering is not a common occurrence, the consequences to the resident can be very serious.

Many residents live in nursing homes because it is unsafe for them to stay at home alone. If your loved one tried to leave home without supervision, chances are they will try it in our home too. By making us aware of this risk, preventative measures will be taken to protect your loved one from this danger.

Risk Factors

Some risk factors for wandering include:

  • History of leaving their home or another nursing home without supervision
  • Tendency to wander without purpose or direction
  • Dementia or Alzheimer's disease
  • Any illness causing confusion
  • History of depression
  • Feeling unhappy at the nursing home
  • Trouble adjusting to new surroundings
  • Difficulty seeing or hearing
  • Increased confusion in the evening
  • Poor sense of safety
  • Feeling abandoned

Prevention of Wandering

The best way to care for a resident at risk for wandering is to try to prevent it from occurring.

To prevent wandering, make efforts to:

  • Identify residents at risk for wandering
  • Redirect the resident to activities that focus them away from thoughts of wandering
  • Evaluate the need for a wandering management program. This may include wearing a bracelet or other device intended to alert staff when the resident tries to leave a safe area
  • Introduce the resident to other residents in the facility
  • Help the resident make choices where possible (i.e., what to wear, when to bathe)
  • Communicate with the resident to determine the reason for the behavior
  • Observe the resident for events that trigger wandering or wandering behaviors

If your loved one has ever tried to leave home or another facility, please let the nursing staff know at the time of admission.

What Can You Do To Help

  • Notify nursing staff immediately if you believe your loved one has developed any wandering risk factors after admission.
  • Tell the nurse what may be causing or contributing to the problem.
  • Tell the nurse what has been done in the past to stop this type of behavior.
  • Encourage and talk positively about nursing home placement when visiting.
  • Bring in personal items to help the resident feel more comfortable in the nursing home environment.
  • Inform staff when your visit has ended.
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