Dementia Wandering: What It Is And How Door Alarms Help
- 21 Nov, 2017
Dementia wandering is a serious concern for family members and caregivers. Read here to learn what this problem is and how door alarms can keep loved ones safe.
Keyword(s): door alarms
If you are a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia, you know what the challenges both of you face. One of the more daunting challenges is wandering.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, about 6 out of 10 people with the condition will wander or elope.
Alzheimer's patients have little sense of time. They often attempt to leave their home or facility and wander. Another name for this is elopement. If your loved one has access to a car, he or she can set out to an unknown destination. The result can be terrifying.
One solution is a door alarm. Door alarms alert others in the home when a person exits through a door. They can provide you peace of mind. Read on to learn more.
Locking Doors and Why We Don't Recommend It
If you live with a loved one with Alzheimer's, you may have tried various locking methods like placing a latch above eye level. Locking doors creates a fire hazard because the person may not be able to escape the home when needed.
Also, your loved one may take offense to the locked door and become angry or frustrated.
Stop Patients from Elopement and Wandering
Wandering is a behavior most Alzheimer's patients exhibit at one time or another. It includes restless pacing restlessly about a room. Or it could look like aimless meandering through the house. If you are in public, your loved one with dementia could wander away from you.
If they wander far enough to get lost, the consequences are severe. Searchers have found Alzheimer's patients disoriented or in critical condition due to missed medication or hypothermia. Sometimes, the outcome is far worse.
A Door Alarm for Peaceful Nights
An alarm allows the person to exit through the door. But it also alerts others in the home that someone is exiting. If the family member leaving is your loved one with Alzheimer's, then you know they either need assistance or redirection back into the home.
Door alarms can help you ensure the safety of your loved one who should not leave home unaccompanied. It is exhausting to have to keep track of someone constantly.
An alarm would allow you to sleep through the night. You'd only wake should the alarm sound during the night. As you know, dementia patients lose track of their days and nights, so wandering late at night is quite common.
Extra Protection When You Have a Pool
A door alarm on each exterior door protects those who need supervision outside of the home. If the home has a pool or a hot tub, door alarms provide an extra layer of safety.
Even if the individual with dementia was an avid swimmer is his or her day, they could become disoriented quickly.
Alerts Caregivers When Their Loved One Needs Assistance
You can also install a door alarm on interior doors such as the bathroom door. That way, you will know when your loved one heads to the bathroom.
They may need assistance with mobility or personal hygiene. But they may not know or want to ask for that assistance.
Types of Door Alarms
If you do not have door chimes installed as part of a security system, there is no need to contract for one. There door alarms available that are not part of a security system. These alarms are all easy to install yourself.
A string alarm is simply a string across the door opening. The string fastens to the alarm with a magnet. Place the string high up on the door frame.
When the door opens, the string detaches from the alarm. And the alarm sounds. To stop the alarm, reattach the magnet.
Passive InfraRed (PIR) Alarms
You can install a PIR alarm or chime across a door opening. If the plane across the door breaks, the alarm will sound. The alarm will alert you that someone has opened the door or walked across the threshold.
If you place these on exterior doors only, you'll know that your loved one may be attempting to leave. If placed on an interior door, you will know your loved one is moving about and may need your assistance.
Magnetic Door Alarms
Magnetic door alarms have two parts that connect magnetically. One part attaches to the door frame's edge. The other part attaches to the door right next to the frame. The alarm sounds when the two parts disconnect.
A popular model is the RC 2
Floor Sensor Alarms
Floor sensor alarms have a sensor pad located on the floor and a magnetic lock on the door. You can preset them to various settings. For example, you can set the alarm to sound immediately after the door opens. Or, you can set it so that a person can exit and return within a short time before the alarm sounds.
While this option is a lock and not a door alarm, a keypad is safer than a regular lock and does have an audible sound. The keypad locks will unlock by entering the preset number code on the keypad.
You can connect the keypad lock to your smoke or fire alarm system. In the event of a fire, the keypad will unlock.
Using a Combination of Door Alarms and Chimes
You can use a combination of any of these door alarms to better alert you when your loved one is moving about the house. If each alarm sounds with a different chime, you will know whether the person is exiting the home or entering the bathroom, for example.
Or, if the front door and back door have different alert sounds, you will know to which part of the house you need to go.
Something as Simple as a Chime for Peace of Mind
As a caregiver, one of your worst fears is that your loved one with Alzheimer's or dementia will wander off and get lost. When that happens, there is a small window of time to find them before they become endangered.
Using door alarms is one way to help prevent this from happening. It can also help bring you peace of mind because you can't have eyes and ears on the person all the time. Please see a selection of door chimes on our website.