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Wandering

Hatshepsut

Registered User
Jan 12, 2009
14
North Somerset
Hi, my 83-year-old mother has Alzheimers and my 85-year-old father is her main carer. I moved down from London a couple of years ago to be nearer to them in Somerset, although as a support to my father rather than as my mother's carer (if that makes sense).

My mother is a sundowner and although vague and forgetful during the early part of the day (when she merrily admits to being gaga), can be a different person later on. That's okay, Dad has developed coping strategies and if she can be persuaded to have a nap, she wakes refreshed and relatively happy.

But, of course, the illness doesn't stand still and, over the last few weeks, she has taken to wandering. Either she decides she wants to visit me, or she just wants to go for 'a little walk'. She is very fit for her age and can walk for miles. A week or two ago, she managed to walk for more than 5 miles in the general direction of my home before my Dad had even realised she wasn't there, and last week, after failing to find her in the surrounding country lanes, he had to call the police, who did eventually find her (all very dramatic with a helicopter 'n' all). Again, she had set out to visit me, although on this occasion she was heading in the wrong direction. Today he drove around for ages without finding her, came home to phone the police and found her in bed - she had circled round and come home while he was out.

I have searched this forum and found a lot of references to wandering, so I'm sure her behaviour is a common one, but I am looking for some solutions and wondered if any other forum members could help with ideas. Obviously my Dad could just lock the doors but he is reluctant to do that, since she is in the habit of merrily nipping over the road to the village shop to buy biscuits, for example. All of this is do-able in the morning, but changes when she goes into sundowner mode. Could he just alarm the doors to alert him to a door opening? Can we sew a tracking device into her bum-bag (she doesn't leave home without it)?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions. One of the toughest things I battle with is that my Dad doesn't want to acknowledge that dementia is a progressive illness - he thinks I take a pessimistic view of things, while I think he is overly optimistic about the future.
 

Meercat

Registered User
Aug 13, 2010
543
Hi Hatshepsut

I'm not able to speak from experience - I'm sure someone will be along soon that will be more helpful - however if you do go down the route of placing alarms, an alternative maybe a bell that rings when you step on the indoor frontdoor mat (backdoor aswell, if that too is an escape route).
I'm sure with satellite/GPS systems etc there must be some sort of product that you could use to track - enabling your Mum to still have her freedom and exercise

Good luck and best wishes
Meercat
 

Hatshepsut

Registered User
Jan 12, 2009
14
North Somerset
Thanks, Meercat

I appreciate your response. Talking it over with my sister this evening, she made the reasonable point that, even if he were to hear her leave the house, Dad is nowhere near as spry as our mother is and, by the time he'd gathered together what he needed and found his shoes :rolleyes: she'd be out of sight.

I think I'm going to take your advice about a tracking device - you are right that, as much as possible, her independence and choice should be respected. However, we do worry that she can set off, as she did today, in the dark, without a torch or coat, along country lanes with no pavements. As she jokes (when things are good), she is fine from the neck down, but a nightmare above the neck, with Alzheimers, macular degeneration, poor hearing (she won't wear her hearing aid), no sense of smell and broken dentures (she won't wear the new ones). That's not a good combination to deal with traffic (obviously the sense of smell and poor teeth are irrelevant!).
 

Witzend

Registered User
Aug 29, 2007
4,291
SW London
I am sure a tracking device would be a great idea, if you can ensure that it always goes with her. It is almost impossible to stop someone like this from going out - my FIL was also very fit and intent on walking a lot. if we ever tried to prevent or discourage him he was like a crazed wild animal in a cage. I just wish there had been anything like tracking devices then - this was some 15 years ago now and I was constantly worried about him getting lost, run over or causing an accident because of his disregard for traffic even when crossing a busy road. However he never came to any harm or caused any to anyone else.
I do hope you find some sort of solution - I know what a worry it is.
 

babystar

Registered User
Apr 10, 2013
132
Does she have a mobile phone? Or could she be provided with one? Although I'm not up on smartphones etc. I'm pretty sure there are some "tracker" apps available, although haven't looked at how they work. My Mum did a disappearing act the other week though and I doubt she would remember to take a phone with her, so guess it depends on the individual!
 

Hatshepsut

Registered User
Jan 12, 2009
14
North Somerset
Thank you, Witzend and babystar. At the moment, she doesn't go anywhere without her bum-bag, so I think it would be relatively easy to secrete a device in that. Of course there's no guarantee this would always be the case.

Coincidentally, my brother found a thread in Talking Point that mentioned a more discrete system - Buddi tracking - that is used by some local authorities and which features a small device that could be attached to her key-ring as if it were a fob. There's an ongoing cost involved in that system, though I guess you get what you pay for.

I should apologise for starting a new thread on a topic that appears to have been discussed ad nauseam before now - my 'search' skills are faulty - and for using the term 'wandering' - I can see that it implies my mother doesn't have a goal in mind when she sets out. She does, of course, even though that goal might not be obvious to us.