How to Keep a Wandering Senior Safe

August 20, 2021 | BY PHS Staff

Wandering away and getting lost: these are serious concerns for people with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia. In fact, six out of 10 people with dementia will wander away from home at some point in their disease, says the Alzheimer’s Association. You may not think someone who is in a frail state or who uses a cane or walker could get very far, but it can and does happen. And when it does, it can be very scary for all involved.

Most times, the person is found unscathed. But other times, they may fall, have an accident or succumb to weather exposure and not be found until it’s too late. That’s why it’s critical to ensure your loved one remains safe at all times. The best way to ensure no gaps in care occur is to hire Alzheimer’s in home care.

Tips to Guard Against Wandering

Here are some tips on how to keep your wandering senior safe.

Lock the Doors

Lock the doors to the house, provided someone in charge is in the home in case of emergency. You may think it’s cruel to lock them in, but it’s really in their best interests if they’re prone to escaping. It also keeps the family members and neighbors from worrying, plus it guards against frequent calls to the police.

Use deadbolt door locks, keeping the keys on a chain around your neck in case of fire or other emergency. Then you would be able to open the door to allow for exit, explains Aging Care.

You may also want to try child locks and alarms, installing one at the bottom or top of the door. Your senior loved one is unlikely to look very high up or down low for locking mechanisms. Install sliding locks and chained door guards well out of their reach. Keypad door knobs also work well, such as at basement stairs. Do not tell them the combination.

Install child-proof door knob coverings to make it difficult to operate the knobs, just like the ones you used for your toddlers.

Many determined seniors try to escape through widows. Install alarms on all windows, especially in their bedroom or bathroom.


Many times, elderly will attempt to leave their rooms at night and wander because they are looking for food or drink. To encourage them to stay in their own rooms at night, put a mini fridge in there stocked with healthy snacks and beverages, such as water and low-sugar juice.

Provide them with a TV and make sure the remote is close by so they can change the channel when they want. Check the batteries often so they don’t have to get up and go looking for some. You may also want to put a commode in the room so they can toilet in there as well. If your loved one has a tendency to lock themselves in the bathroom, remove the door and put in a privacy curtain instead.

Clearly Mark Interior Doors

Sometime seniors gain access to the outdoors by accident. They may simply be confused and are searching for another interior room, such as their bedroom, bathroom or kitchen. Clearly mark all interior doors with wording and pictures. Disguise doors that you don’t want them to use, such as those leading to the front yard or a basement. Cover those doors with dark curtains, suggests Daily Caring.

It can be scary to see your senior loved one wander, especially in the throes of such a debilitating disease. But the right Alzheimer’s care can give you peace of mind.

Contact Preferred HealthStaff

Rest assured, our Alzheimer’s home care in Gettysburg can ensure the safety and security of your loved one who suffers from dementia and has been known to wander. Please contact us toll free at 866-943-9791 or in Fairfield 717-642-8500.