Tracking Dementia Patients: Ensuring Their Safety and Your Peace of Mind

November 9, 2023

When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, it can be a difficult and emotional time for the entire family. Not only do you have to navigate through the challenges of caring for someone with this condition, but you also have to be aware of potential risks and dangers. One such risk is the possibility of elopement, where a dementia patient may wander or leave their designated area without supervision. The National Institutes of Health defines dementia related elopement as “leaving one’s dwelling unescorted.” They go on to say that “persistent wandering and elopement are linked to the high morbidity and mortality rates among” people with dementia. It’s no wonder that family caregivers look for ways to track dementia dementia patients prone to elopement.

Understanding Dementia: Behavioral Symptoms and Their Impact

Dementias are a family of complex and challenging neurological diseases that afflict millions of people around the world. It is a progressive disorder that impairs cognitive functioning and causes psychological changes as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Some of the cognitive impairments may include memory loss, trouble problem-solving, loss of coordination, problems communicating, and disorientation or confusion. On the psychological side, some of the symptoms include a change in personality, aggressiveness, agitation, anxiety, depression, and paranoia.” Understanding the behavioral symptoms and their impact is crucial for caregivers who are looking after a loved one with a dementia. says “there are many different types of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease accounting for between 60% – 80% of all cases.”

The life changing impact of these behavioral symptoms on both the person with dementia AND their caregivers cannot be understated. Dementia can cause immense stress, anxiety, and worry for the family members who are responsible for their loved one’s well-being. The constant fear of elopement and the associated risks can be emotionally draining, leaving caregivers feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.

By understanding the behavioral symptoms and their impact, caregivers can take proactive steps to protect their loved ones with dementia. Implementing safeguards such as door alarms for dementia can significantly reduce the risk of elopement and enhance the overall safety of the person with dementia. This, in turn, allows caregivers to maintain their own psychological well-being, knowing that they have taken every precaution to keep their loved one safe.

In the next section, we will explore the dangers of elopement in dementia patients and discuss practical steps that caregivers can take to minimize the risk. 

The Dangers of Elopement in Dementia Patients

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Elopement can be a dangerous symptom of dementia. A dementia patient may become disoriented and confused, leading to them to walk away from a familiar place only to find themselves lost or in an unfamiliar situation. A dementia patient often believes they are leaving with “purpose”, however, they may not recognize their way back, be able to ask for help, or protect themselves from predators. The “purpose” is often misguided or quickly forgotten, leaving a dementia patient lost both geographically and psychologically.

The dangers of elopement in dementia patients are far-reaching. Not only can elopement put the person with dementia at physical risk – falls, car accidents, weather extremes, or bodily injury – but it also causes immense stress and worry for their caregivers. The emotional burden of constant worry takes a toll.

Steps to Minimize the Risk of Elopement

As a caregiver, it is essential to take proactive steps to minimize the risk of elopement in dementia patients. By implementing certain strategies and safeguards, you can help ensure the safety of your loved one and provide yourself with peace of mind. Here are some practical steps you can take:

1. Create a secure environment inside the home: Make your loved one’s living space safe and secure. Consider using childproof locks or latches to prevent your loved one from wandering into potentially dangerous areas, such as staircases or storage rooms. Dementia patients should NEVER be put at risk of being unable to escape or be rescued in case of an emergency, like a fire.

2. Utilize technology: Devices like dementia door alarms and GPS wearables are available. These alarms are specifically designed to alert caregivers when a person with dementia attempts to leave their designated area without supervision. The alarm can provide an immediate alert, which means a dementia patient has already eloped. Caregivers prefer more proactive interventions. A GPS enabled wearable will go where the patient goes, but only if they can be trusted to wear the device. People with cognitive decline are understandably forgetful, sensitive to sensory changes, and often non-compliant when tasked with the responsibility of wearing, charging, and managing wearable devices. Caregivers who rely on this approach may want to temper their expectations.

3. Maintain a routine: Establish a consistent daily routine for your loved one. This can help reduce confusion and restlessness, which are common triggers for wandering behavior. Make sure to schedule regular meals, activities, and rest periods, as well as maintain a consistent sleep schedule.

4. Engage in meaningful activities: Keeping your loved one engaged in activities that they enjoy can help reduce their restlessness and the desire to wander. Engaging activities can include puzzles, reading, listening to music, or participating in arts and crafts. Make sure to choose activities that cater to their abilities and interests.

5. Supervise closely: Keep a watchful eye on your loved one, especially during periods of increased agitation or confusion. Try to provide one-on-one supervision, or consider enlisting the help of a trusted caregiver or companion to assist you. The presence of another person can provide an added layer of safety and support.

Remember, while it is essential to minimize the risk of elopement, it is equally important to balance safety with maintaining your loved one’s independence and quality of life. Open communication, understanding, and patience are key in providing the best possible care for your loved one with dementia. With the right precautions in place, you can ensure their safety while providing them with the freedom and dignity they deserve.

envoyatHome’s Approach: Using a Customizable Home Monitoring System for Dementia Patients

At envoyatHome, we understand the unique challenges that come with caring for a loved one with cognitive decline. That’s why we have developed a solution specifically designed to manage elopement risk to help ensure the safety of dementia patients.

Recommended as the best senior remote monitor for caregivers of people with cognitive issues by, envoyatHome takes a proactive approach to caring for a person who may be an elopement risk.

Are there medical interventions that can prevent or minimize elopement attempts? envoyatHome can discover, monitor, report, and analyze multiple cognitive decline-related behaviors that put your loved one at risk. With no cameras, no wearables, no listening devices, and most importantly, no engagement required by the dementia patient, envoyatHome is ideal for caregivers of dementia patients. Family caregivers use envoyatHome to share the care responsibilities among multiple family members, as well as share envoyatHome Behavior Data with doctors and clinicians to help loved one’s get the very best care.

Coping Strategies for Caregivers: Maintaining Your Mental Health While Ensuring Their Safety

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Caring for a loved one with dementia can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Caregivers need to prioritize their own mental health and well-being to provide the best possible care for themselves, their families, and their loved one. Here are some coping strategies to help maintain your mental health while ensuring the safety of your loved one with dementia.

1. Seek support: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to support groups, online communities, or professional caregivers who can offer guidance and understanding. Connecting with others who are going through similar experiences can provide a sense of comfort and validation.

2. Practice self-care: Make sure to take care of yourself. Set aside time each day to do something that brings you joy and helps you relax. Whether it’s reading a book, going for a walk, or practicing meditation, find activities that help you recharge and de-stress.

3. Set realistic expectations: Accept that you can’t do everything and that it’s okay to ask for help. Create a daily routine that includes breaks for yourself. Give yourself permission to take time off and prioritize your own well-being.

4. Communicate your needs: Let your friends and family know what you’re going through and what kind of support you need. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks and responsibilities. Many people are willing to help if they know how they can be of assistance.

5. Find healthy outlets for stress: Find healthy ways to manage your stress and emotions. Engage in activities such as exercise, journaling, or talking to a therapist. Take time to process your feelings and seek outlets that help you release any pent-up tension or frustration.

6. Educate yourself: Learn as much as you can about dementia and the specific challenges your loved one is facing. Understanding the disease and its progression can help you anticipate and cope with the changes that occur.

7. Use technology! Family caregiving in the digital age means affordable technology that can help.

Final Thoughts: The Balancing Act of Caring for a Loved One with Dementia

Caring for a loved one who is an elopement risk is a challenging and demanding role. It requires immense strength, patience, and compassion. Thankfully, there are affordable technology solutions, like enovyatHome’s senior remote monitors and dementia door alarms that can help.

About envoyatHome

envoyatHome is committed to caregivers of older adults aging in place. Featured in Kiplinger, Fortune, National Council on Aging, and, envoyatHome is a solution for caregivers that delivers full time, affordable senior care for the digital age. You can reach us at or 856.681.0076.

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