Wandering residents and sleepless nights


I was sleeping soundly Monday night when Maria (pseudonym) pushed her wheelchair through my door. She is mentally challenged and when she cannot sleep, Maria roams the halls. It was 12:38 a.m., so I put my call light on and an aide soon took Maria out.

It seemed I had just fallen back to sleep when another resident, Daniel (pseudonym), wandered in with an upset Maria behind him running into everything. I tried redirecting Maria but she would not leave. I was afraid she might hurt herself or run into my computer.

As soon as I got Daniel to leave, he came back. He has dementia and likes to visit. But when his 6'3" frame approached my bed and sat down, I cringed. I convinced Daniel to leave but he returned partially clothed and tried to touch me. Luckily, I was able to talk him out of his advances, because I am unable to physically push him away.

Daniel left again for a little while, then he and Maria returned. He opened a drawer and took my glasses, ignoring my pleas to return them. I put on my call light and shouted to the aides that Daniel had my glasses.

Daniel came back into my room wearing my glasses. Even though they looked funny on him, I did want them back in one piece. I put my call light on again. But when it was not answered quickly, I woke my roommate. Charlene (pseudonym) woke to find Daniel staring down at her. Despite her small stature, she responded like a mother bear. She removed my glasses from Daniel's face and directed Daniel and Maria out of the room. Then she held the door closed for a couple of minutes. But that did not keep them out.

They were in and out of our room a few more times. On Daniel's last visit he tried to feed me a cookie. He came close to shoving it into my mouth, but my wiggling prevented it.

This is the second night in the last month that these two residents have wandered in an out of the room, and kept me awake. I wish there were a way to consistently stop wandering residents from coming into my room, especially at night.

I did see a solution to this problem at one nursing home. A personal alarm (like those put on residents to prevent falls) was mounted across a resident's doorway. When the alarm went off, the staff moved quickly to escort the wanderer out.

Please share in the comments below how wandering residents are handled after nightfall at your facility.

Topics: Alzheimer's/Dementia