Resources for wandering: What resources are available for wandering patients who live at home?

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What resources are available for wandering patients who live at home?


What resources are available for wandering patients who live at home? Also, need cost and whether there are any financial assistance to acquire them.

Our answer

Wandering is common among those with dementia. To prevent a dangerous situation from occurring and to reduce stress, it may be useful to start by investigating the resources that are available to you. The Alzheimer Society of British Columbia offers a guide for caregivers with comprehensive information on wandering and dementia.

There are some simple strategies that can prove helpful in managing wandering, such as establishing and working within a daily routine. The Alzheimer’s Association has some information on tips to prevent wandering.

For wandering inside the home it can be beneficial for the person with dementia to create an environment for safe wandering. Wandering can be both a form of exercise but can also act as a healthy outlet for managing complex emotions such as anxiety or feeling of restlessness.

Visual cues are very important for wayfinding. Labeling the rooms of the house with clear descriptive text and pictures is a great first step in creating a safe environment for wandering. You can create the signs yourself using large clear text and photos. Alternatively, there are labels available for purchase, such as these Re-Useable Self Stick Identifying Labels from which cost about $125 (CDN). It is also available from for about $65 (USD).

If the wanderer has a caregiver in the home there are plenty of devices that alert the caregiver when the person begins to wander away. For example:

  •  Smart Caregiver Motion Sensor and Pager (at Amazon Canada) can be placed near an exit, and when the sensor detects movement the pager will chime. This product costs about $70 (CDN), plus additional shipping fees.
  • Physen Wireless Door Chime (at Amazon Canada) will play a ringtone when the two sensor components – one on the door and one on the doorframe – are separated. This product costs about $30 (CDN), plus additional shipping fees.

If the caregiver is not in the home with the wanderer they may be interested in employing a remote monitoring system. Assured Living from Best Buy and Bayshore HealthCare offers such a system that relies on discrete sensors – no wearable components or cameras. The service allows caregivers to monitor the individual by sending sensor information to a phone, tablet, or their own digital hub. The service has a $200 (CDN) set up fee and it costs $80 (CDN) a month.

For wandering outside of the home, there are a few options that may be worth exploring depending on the individual. Safely Home is a program offered by MedicAlert – creator of the MedicAlert bracelet – specifically for supporting individuals with dementia. The program includes a MedicAlert Bracelet and 24/7 emergency support. The cost for the bracelet, registration and one year of service is $60 (CDN). For helping paying for MedicAlert, those in financial hardship can apply for the Membership Assistance Program.

You might be interested to learn more about GPS-tracking for individuals with dementia.

Depending on the patient’s location within BC, they might also be interested in exploring options with Project Lifesaver - a community based, public safety, non-profit organization that provides law enforcement, fire/rescue, and caregivers with a program designed to protect, and when necessary, quickly locate individuals with cognitive disorders who are prone to the life threatening behavior of wandering. There are local chapters in Greater VictoriaNanaimo, and Surrey.

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