How to Stop Elderly Wandering

Wandering Alarms for The Elderly

How can you stop an elderly person with cognitive impairment from sneaking out of the house? How do GPS systems for Alzheimer’s patients work? What are some cheap ways to safeguard your home so that a senior can’t get lost?

If an elderly person goes missing for more than 24 hours there is a very high chance that they will die. Don’t let this happen!

Devices to Prevent Senior Getting Lost

Just this morning we found an elderly man on our front lawn. He was wandering around the yard dressed a bit too lightly for the 35 degrees we’re having this chilly first day of spring. We live in a community with three nursing homes in walking distance and this is not the first time that I’ve met a lost and confused patient on my property.

It turned out all right – the gentleman in question lived on our block. It took a few minutes to figure things out but we got him home. As I walked him back to his grandson’s house, he told me, “Get me back in the house before they know I did this or I’ll be in big trouble. I’m just a kid, I’m only 97 years old,” he said with a grin.

How to Avoid Wandering From Home

While there are great GPS tracking devices that can help find a missing person (see SecuraTrac for a great solution), the best strategy is to stop them before they get out of the house. NEVER LOCK PEOPLE IN THE HOME! In the event of a fire, all exits must be available. Instead, try these ideas.

Fall and Departure Warning Systems

An inexpensive alarm unit costs less than $60. You need to attach this alarm to a device like a pressure sensitive floor pad, a wheelchair seatbelt monitor or pressure pads. The pressure pads can be placed on chairs or beds so that an alarm goes off if they get up in the middle of the night. Using these devices can help stop wandering as well as falls. If your loved one needs assistance in the bathroom then you’ll want to know if they’re trying to get up on there own. You can find these products at

There are also pull cord alarms that you can use to clip on to a patient where a pad is impractical. These are self-contained units the alarm is attached to the cord. You can find them here.

Try a recordable alarm. You can record a message in your own voice like, Dad, sit down I am coming to help you. Instead of an alarm that can confuse and agitate them, your familiar voice can guide and calm while also notifying you. You can find them here.

There are also infrared motion detectors that can signal a caretaker. These are reliable, safe systems that can help avoid falls and wandering. The idea is to stop them before the accident or before they get lost.

Door Alarms to Stop Elderly Wandering

A door alarm is a cheap, effective way to keep a person with cognitive impairment from getting out of the house. A bright banner with the word STOP is placed across the door. If the door is opened the alarm is triggered. It is affordable and easy to install, but it may not be practical in a busy home where other family members may signal false alarms.

A Door Alert System is good solution for a busy home. If you have other family members coming and going, you don’t want alarms going off every time the kids come and go. A door alert system works by only triggering the alarm when the at-risk person walks out. The patient wears a secured wrist band that signals the alarms when they get near a sensor strip you place by the exit. These aren’t cheap but highly recommended if you can afford them.

GPS Devices for Finding The Lost and Wandering

Finally, what is they manage to escape (I don’t know a nicer way to say it) the house? Invest in a reliable GPS tracking device built for elderly patients. The moment you discover that your aging loved one is missing, call 911 and give them access to the tracking system. These devices can help you find people fast and get them home and safe in minutes rather than hours. Check out this GPS unit from SecuraTrac.

Do you have tips on how to prevent aging adults with mental disabilities from getting away from home? We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment.

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