Wandering Prevention

February 27, 2013

In my research about wandering I came across many great tips that I would like to share.
A person suffering from dementia may get lost during any stage of the disease because they become confused for a period of time.
Here are a few warning signs:  returning home later than usual, trying to go to work that is no longer there, doing repetitive movements, being disoriented in familiar places, asking where people are, moving as if performing a chore but not actually doing that, and appearing lost.
Enough all ready about the signs what can be done?
-Try providing a routine, finding the time of day that when the person is most confused and planning an activity that fulfills his/her need to have purpose.  Perhaps the person would enjoy a little exercise or chore such as walking the dog.
-The experts say do not correct the person when s/he makes a request to go home when already home, but affirm, instead, that s/he is safe and will be okay for the night.  Suggest enjoying where they are.
-Always make sure basic needs are being met, such as eating and using the restroom.
-It is best to stay away from places that are unfamiliar and overwhelming, which can cause confusion.
-Place the door lock out of reach.  We use a door lock in which a numeric code has to be entered to exit.
-Paint the front door the same color as the wall to camouflage it.  Childproof locks also work.  I like the suggestion of placing a dark mat in front of the door to make it appear as if there is a hole in the ground so as to keep said person from approaching.
-Never ever leave a person with dementia home alone.
-Hide the car keys.
-If the person gets up frequently at night to relieve himself or herself, make sure night-lights are installed in the home.  Also, restrict the intake of fluids before bed and have the individual use the restroom before turning in.
-If the person wanders, the police may be notified within fifteen minutes.  Be sure to say a “vulnerable adult” is missing.
I spend a lot of time observing my son, to try to figure out what is going on in his mind.  He is super fast to take off.  Now some times I can recognize a very subtle energy change in him before he tries to split.  So I position myself between him and the exit whenever these situations come up.
Best of luck to you in discovering these patterns.

Help For Loved Ones Who Wander

The fear of wandering/elopement is very real if you have a loved one who has autism, Alzheimer’s, Down Syndrome, or other cognitive or physical impairments.  The CDC determined that 1 in 88 individuals now have autism.  Data from the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) states the 49% of children with autism attempt to elope from a safe environment.  One third of these who wander are unable to communicate their name, address or phone number.  Parents reported that 66% had a close call with traffic and 32% had a close call with drowning.  Our intention with QR code iD is to provide help for a person before they enter into a crisis situation.

Alzheimer’s accounts for 31,000 incidents of critical wandering a year, according to researcher Robert Koester.   This amount will increase as the Baby Boomers age.    At least 60% of people who have dementia will wander.  They are disoriented and cannot judge dangerous places and situations.   Unfortunately, when a person with Alzheimer’s wanders off, they do not cry out for help, they don’t leave physical clues, they might travel to a former favorite location, and may have a history of wandering.

Qr Code iD alerts people to knowing this person is needing help by having “If I need Help” in large red letters. People who have Autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s, Down Syndrome, or other cognitive or physical condition that hinders their ability to provide personal information can benefit from having a personal code. The person who finds the wanderer can scan the QR code with a smart phone or iPad or manually enter the number associated with the code into the website to obtain the contact information to reunite the person with loved ones.  Also, any information that is important during an emergency for the finder to know, such as ways to sooth or medical conditions and how to deal with them, will be provided.  This information can be changed in real time by logging into the site.  There is a password-protected area in which  documents that may be wanted for reference can be stored.

QR Code iD: A Labor Of Love

Creating QR Code iD has been a true labor of love for me.  I feel that it will help people to be saved from dangerous situations when they may go wandering off.  And it will also serve as a safe place to store important documents that have to be referred to often or at crucial times.  This has arisen from my concerns for my son.

The most devastating event of my life was watching my son go through a major regression and subsequently be diagnosed with Autism.  When Jay was about two and a half  I was concerned by his low level of language, his lack of play with toys (although he was constantly holding them) and that he was not grasping concepts that others could at that age.  He was chasing his older sister around in the most adoring way and whenever I sat down there he was on my lap.  So we felt very bonded with him and his eye contact was great.  At the time I felt he just had a language delay and would soon catch up with his peers.  I had gone into kindergarten myself only able to string a couple words together.  I had Jay evaluated by a school Speech Therapist.  She had him started in Special Ed Pre-School.  He was developing slowly and was able to say a sentence spontaneously.

Then around age four and a half, during the hottest Summer I can remember, Jay had a major regression.  He lost all speech.  I was unable to get him to say “Mom”, “yes” or “no” any more or look at me.  He spent most of his time screaming and running from one end of the house to the other to crash into the bed or sofa.  He no longer played with his sister and no longer wanted to cuddle.  Soon after this development, he was diagnosed by the pediatrician with autism.

An army of therapists and specialists have come and gone in our lives since.  I am so thankful for all their help. It has been an emotional roller coaster for the whole family dealing with Jay’s daily behavior.  We have had to make many tough decisions about his interventions, in which we have invested most of our time and focus. I have learned to be a fierce advocate, and to be able to give thousands of high fives and still look excited to do so!

Jay is turning eleven this month.  He seems to have a lot of joy and enthusiasm in his life, although he remains significantly challenged with language and academics.