So, why does your Alzheimer Dad go wandering?
Make some guesses. Ask questions. Ask him, and then
- Is he bored? Probably;
- Is he restless? Sometimes;
- Is he stuck with absolutely nothing to do?
- Is he just not used to being this person
with dementia? Undoubtedly.
Think about the average person who has dementia.
They’ve lost their previous life and have nothing to
replace it. Caregivers can be so busy that
those they care for are often left in a kind of
limbo They can be left doing nothing, having nothing
and unable to figure out for themselves what to do.
I always look at the problem things they want to
do as their communication to us. So, a walker wants
to walk. As my nephew would say, “Duh!”
First, everyone else can go walking any time. Except
for people with dementia. We even label their
walking as wandering. That’s our caregiver jargon
which says we don’t want them to do it. It’s
dangerous for them and inconvenient for us. If
we don’t help find alternatives, however, they
will walk out when we’re not looking.
WHY DAD WANDERS
- The biggest reason never stated for people
with dementia wandering is that this is the way
they can self-medicate their anxiety and sense
- That feeling of displacement drives them to
walk out of the front door and straight off down
the road, going forward endlessly. It is a
feeling that instigates walking and it is
dementia which keeps it going. Once people have
begun walking, they tend to be
unlikely to ask for help or directions and they
tend to go straight ahead.
- Boredom and restlessness also drive
people out of their front doors to find
presumably some kind of variety.
This is why the smart caregiver creates an
activity plan. For your Dad, maybe he needs a drawer
all of his own full of the kind of stuff that used
to interest him. Maybe he was a handyman
around the home. Then screwdrivers, nails, a hammer
– all the equipment of fixing up might keep him
happy indefinitely. Maybe a tool box all jumbled up
with stuff he can sort out.