Behaviour changes can occur in the middle to later stages of dementia. One common behaviour change is dementia restlessness, such as pacing, fidgeting and wandering. 

It is important when you see changes in behaviour to understand why or what has triggered the behaviour. Behaviour changes may be someone trying to communicate how they feel. For example, they’re not in familiar surroundings or they are frustrated with either their environment or not being understood. 

A person’s declining memory and ability to communicate may make it difficult for them to remember or explain their behaviours, particularly if they have wandered. 

Triggers for wandering 

Identity the situation to learn what could be causing the behaviour. For example: 

– Changed or overwhelming environment, seeking a quiet familiar surrounding

– Loss of memory, seeking familiarity 

– Are they bored? Are they trying to keep occupied?

– Are they in discomfort? Do they need the bathroom?

– Do they have an unmet need?

Dementia restlessness precautions

The precautions you implement should be tailored to the personality of the person with dementia. Understand their motivations or behaviours and adapt to their environment as necessary. These could include: 

– Keep out of sight any coats or shopping bags, seeing them could act as reminders or prompts to leave the home

– Similarly, cover the front or back door with a curtain, preventing the urge to open them

– Make them feel appreciated by involving them in everyday tasks, making them feel useful 

– Encourage and ask about memories to reminisce, helping to make them feel reassured 

– Use technology such as GPS tracking mobile apps, door alarms so you can hear throughout the home when the front door has been opened

What to do when a person wanders

Sometimes this may happen, so it is important to have a plan for this event: 

– Sew their details into their coat or clothes, as well as your direct number

– Give information to your neighbours and explain your situation

– Register for the Herbert Protocol, to help police find vulnerable missing people

– Look around the home and the immediate area. If you cannot find them contact 999 straight away. You will not be criticised for contacting the police if you are concerned about someone’s safety 

Seek support

If you have further questions or are struggling to cope with behaviour changes associated with dementia, please feel free to get in touch with a friendly member of our team. We understand how difficult it can be to respond to out of character behaviour patterns caused by Alzheimer’s and Dementia. 

We can also help you with our take a break service can start from as little as 30 minutes to a whole month. If you would like to discuss your needs in more detail, then please give our friendly team a call.

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