Why Is Wandering a Problem in a Facility?

Posted by Accutech on March 10, 2021 1:52 pm

Elderly adults join senior care communities for a variety of reasons, but one of those reasons is due to memory issues and forgetfulness. When an elderly adult has dementia, they can become a danger to themselves. They need to be in a place where they won’t harm themselves accidentally or put themselves in a dangerous position.

“Wandering” is a term used to describe the behavior of elders who leave a safe area of a hospital or senior care facility. They wander for different reasons, usually because of a trigger event. For example, they may get agitated when a routine is skipped, which causes them to become confused, anxious, or forgetful. It’s a natural instinct to flee from something uncomfortable or scary, but those with memory care issues don’t realize they are fleeing into danger.

The Dangers of Wandering for Seniors With Cognitive Impairment

When senior residents leave the safety of their community, they could encounter many dangerous situations, such as becoming lost, suffering from thirst or hunger, or falling.

Here are a few more examples of the dangers a senior with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia faces if they wander out of a nursing home or healthcare facility:

  • Hypothermia
  • Heat Stroke
  • Traffic Accidents
  • Assault
  • Injury From a Fall
  • Death from a Medical Emergency

Injuries and accidents can be prevented when residential facilities and hospitals that work with seniors put security mechanisms in place.

For instance, many senior care communities use Accutech’s ResidentGuard to avert patient flight caused by wandering behavior. ResidentGuard is a system that uses a wander wearable armband and a perimeter control system to alert nursing staff that a resident has wandered out of a secure area of the facility.

The alert system makes it possible for residents to move freely through a safe area of their community without the risk of nursing staff being caught unaware that a patient has left a facility.

Other Tips for Preventing Wandering Behavior

Protecting elderly adults is a challenging task, but it’s one that can be done with carefully planned and implemented strategies and methods. For instance, if you maintain consistent routines for patients with dementia, this can help prevent episodes that sometimes lead to wandering.

More tips for managing patient wandering:

  1. Address Boredom - One trigger that can cause wandering is inactivity or a lack of entertainment. It’s important to have pursuits for seniors to enjoy, so they don’t wander due to lack of activity. Social interaction is also vital for keeping elders happy and calm. If you have plenty of things for seniors to do, they will be less likely to deal with depression, anxiety, and loneliness.
  2. Meet Basic Needs - When people have all of their needs met, they are less likely to feel agitated, scared, or upset. Regular meals, scheduled routines, and medication management can prevent confusion and anxiety, cutting down on the likelihood of wander behavior.
  3. Avoid Overstimulation - New or noisy environments can cause feelings of fear or stress, which could trigger a flight response. If possible, avoid busy or extremely noisy places. Peace and calm are helpful in controlling dementia wandering.
  4. Ensure Proper Supervision - Caregivers can avert most resident flight attempts simply by being vigilant in their supervision efforts. Complacency, lack of adherence to safety policies, or negligence can result in a patient leaving a facility and being exposed to grave danger.
  5. Set Up Nursing Stations at Exit Doors - The design of your senior care or healthcare facility can play a role in preventing resident wandering. For example, having nursing stations in locations where nurses can monitor access points could stop elders from leaving the facility.
  6. Have Strict Procedures - When a person with dementia wanders, they could wind up in dangerous areas that jeopardize their health and safety. That’s why every community charged with caring for the elderly should have strict policies and procedures in place—it’s their duty to take good care of those entrusted to them.

Interested in a Security Solution for Wander Management? Contact Accutech

Wandering is definitely a difficult issue to address for those who care for dementia or memory care patients. But you can control this dangerous behavior with the right tactics and security measures. If you are looking for healthcare security solutions at your elder care facility or medical facility, you can look to Accutech. We provide ResidentGuard wander management, to protect your residents from the dangers of wandering. Learn more about how we can help by contacting Accutech today.