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What to Do When Elderly Parent Is Wandering at Night

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Caring for a senior loved one can be both a rewarding and challenging experience. One of the tasks that often causes caregivers stress is when their loved one begins wandering at night. This can leave you feeling confused, frustrated, or even scared—not to mention worried about your loved one’s safety

Fortunately, there are ways to understand more about why this behavior happens and steps you can take to provide comfort while making sure your family member remains safe. You can support your loved one’s safety through a series of steps:

  • Assess the situation to see what you are working with
  • Install security on windows and doors
  • Use GPS tracking to keep track of your loved one
  • Provide comfort and develop routines
  • Use positive reinforcement 

With the right precautions and care, you may see a reduction in these events, which can help prevent caregiver stress and provide a safer environment for your loved one. 

Group of seniors sitting around a table drinking coffee and playing cards.

Assess the Situation

For any concerned caregiver, finding your parent wandering at night can be a worrisome experience. It’s important to assess the situation and try to understand why they are wandering. Could it be related to dementia, anxiety, or medication side effects?

Once you have identified the underlying issue, take the time to look for potential hazards that may cause harm to your loved one. Are there any tripping hazards or obstacles in their path? Could they accidentally leave the house or wander into dangerous areas? 

Creating a safe environment for your loved one is crucial, and seeking help from healthcare professionals can provide valuable insight and guidance in navigating the situation.

Install Security Devices 

As seniors age, they may begin to show signs of memory loss or confusion, making it crucial to monitor their whereabouts and safety. Installing security devices may be an effective way to keep your loved one safe and secure at home. 

Setting up alarms that go off when windows or doors are opened can prevent your loved one from wandering away without your knowledge. This added protection can give you peace of mind and can help keep your loved one safe in their home.

Set Up a Safety Net 

As your parents start to age, it can be worrisome if they go out on their own. You never know when an emergency could happen, and you want to make sure you can find them quickly if it does. That’s where GPS tracking comes in. By using small devices like a key chain or tracking device, you can easily locate your wandering parent if they get lost or need help. 

Whether they’re out for a morning walk or running errands, you can be just a phone call away from finding them. This technology allows you to stay connected with your loved ones no matter where they are.

Provide Comfort

When it comes to taking care of loved ones, providing comfort is key. For an older relative, small things like blankets, nightlights, pillows, and soothing music can make a big difference in creating a sense of security. It’s especially important when it comes to preventing wandering at night. 

Being surrounded by familiar things can help calm anxieties and promote a restful night’s sleep. With a little thought and effort, you can create a cozy and safe environment that will help your loved one feel at ease.

Develop Routines 

Creating a routine is one way to reduce anxiety and increase stability in daily life. Setting specific times for meals, bedtime, and other activities can help establish a sense of predictability and control, which can be especially helpful for those with cognitive impairment or memory issues. 

Additionally, having a consistent schedule can reduce the likelihood of wandering at night, which can be a source of stress for both those with cognitive issues and their caregivers. By taking the time to establish and follow a daily routine, seniors can experience a sense of comfort and stability while also reducing potential risks.

Use Positive Reinforcement 

Staying in one place at night can be challenging for some seniors, whether it’s due to restlessness or discomfort. As a caregiver or loved one, it’s important to encourage your loved one to stay put, and one highly effective way to achieve this is through positive reinforcement

By offering positive incentives, you can help your parent feel more motivated and confident in adhering to their nighttime routine, leading to more restful and secure nights for everyone involved.

Get Professional Help

Night wandering can be a challenging behavior for caregivers to manage. If you are concerned about your loved one’s safety, it’s important to reach out for additional support. Social workers, doctors, and respite care in senior living communities can provide valuable assistance. 

These experts are equipped with the knowledge and skills to address night wandering and can work with you to develop a comprehensive strategy for managing the behavior. Don’t hesitate to seek out professional help to ensure your loved one’s safety and well-being.

Stop the Wandering

There are a variety of steps you can take to protect your loved one from wandering, from creating a secure home environment to encouraging a sense of stability and routine. 

Senior living communities can provide much-needed support for caregivers and seniors, helping promote a safe, comfortable, and fulfilling lifestyle for your loved one. If you are looking for information, contact All American Assisted Living at Raynham and see how we can help. Book a tour today and explore memory care, respite care, and more.

Written by kaplan

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