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Don’t wander away now!

Posted by Earl Laing | Thursday, May 12, 2016

In an assisted living community one of the most frightening feelings is realizing a resident has gone missing. Caregivers need to understand how easy it is for seniors that have wandered off to become disoriented or scared and confused, especially those with dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Wandering seniors are at risk for serious injury or, in extreme cases, death if they're not found in a short window of time. Staff needs to be vigilant in preventing residents from going anywhere without any sort of acknowledgement.

Fortunately, there are plenty of assisted living solutions available to help building managers and staff members keep track of everyone. Let's explore these options:

Know the signs of wanderers

First thing first, your staff should know the signs of someone who might be a flight risk. As mentioned earlier, resident illnesses like dementia or Alzheimer's disease, among other memory disorders, should be well documented for staff knowledge. mentioned that other causes of wandering include things as simple as hunger or dehydration. When residents needs food or are thirsty it's perfectly normal for them to try to address this on their own, but sometimes they can get lost in the process. Another sign mentioned by the source is a senior who has an off sleep schedule; if residents are not sleeping well, chances are they will get up in the middle of the night to walk around, which can be especially dangerous in the dark. 

Ways to help prevent wandering

Assisted living communities should offer plenty of activities to keep the restless constantly occupied. However, it's important to note that these shouldn't be just any activities, they should be meaningful and engaging to the residents so they won't try to wander away if they're under stimulated. Under a watchful eye, residents can also go on walks around their community. 

Buildings and community grounds should also be secured. You can install hard-to-open locks to keep seniors from making quick, undetected getaways. You can also install these locks higher up, so they go unnoticed by anyone but the staff that knows it's there. Gates or walls with secure locks are especially important to ensure the senior can't leave the property.

Technology is incredibly useful for tracking

Is your building equipped with some of the latest technologies that can be used to keep seniors safe? There are technologies that add an extra layer of safety to your community perimeter. Geo fencing, for example, sends a signal to staff members when someone breaches your pre-determined coordinates. This way you can get to the senior before they get too far. Similar software can be installed in your building, including bedrooms to ensure everyone is where they need to be.

GPS tracking devices are also popular for locating whereabouts of seniors. While this might sound like a clunky option, they are being made into jewelry that make it appear much more fashionable to your residents.