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Nursing home residents who may wander

The prospect of your elderly loved one wandering around a New Mexico nursing home without supervision is a scary prospect, yet it has been known to occur. Some residents may meander inside the facility, while others may actually leave the building and wander outside. According to iAdvance Senior Care, there are a number of reasons why residents may decide to wander about without notifying a nurse or a caregiver, which in turn can put the wandering resident in danger.

Dementia patients are a prime candidate for wandering. They may experience a flash of memory and believe they are actually in their old pattern of life and decide to act upon it. For example, they may believe they are at work and that it is time to go home, so they may look around for the exit to the parking lot. They may also seek a loved one, such as a spouse, even though their wife or husband has been deceased for years. In some cases, a dementia sufferer may simply wander without an apparent reason at all.

Some people, however, may simply be disoriented. They are cognitive of their time and place and are not acting under the influence of an old memory. Instead, they are simply lost and cannot find where to go. They may seek a bathroom, a cafeteria, a chapel, or their room. This can still invite some short term panic on the part of the resident’s loved ones if they cannot find that person where he or she usually resides in the facility.

Caring.com lists some motivators for residents to wander. Physical requirements such as the use of the toilet may prompt a person to begin wandering around looking for the bathroom. Some residents may suffer from insomnia, which boosts mental fatigue and results in confusion. Also, if your loved one takes medication, the side effects may result in restlessness or behavior that is uninhibited, which may cause the person to get up and wander around. A resident may also seek interaction with others, particularly if the person suffers from diminished language capabilities as a result of dementia.  

Anyone whose loved one is prone to wandering should inquire about a nursing home’s capabilities to prevent residents from wandering unsupervised. A nursing home should be able to monitor residents or identify a wandering person and be able to keep that person from accidental harm. Due to the different reasons a person may wander, family members will have to find a facility that caters to their loved one’s specific needs.

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