Understanding What A Locksmith Does

How To Prevent An Elderly Parent With Dementia From Wandering

by Maëly Richard

When you live with an elderly parent affected by dementia, you might have to deal with them attempting to leave your home. Although it's commonly known as wandering, this very term is misleading. Wandering suggests randomness, whereas your loved one might leave your home with a specific task in mind, even though the task might no longer be relevant. For example, they might think they're heading to work, even though they might not have worked at their intended location for many years. How can you secure your front door to prevent your elderly parent from simply walking away and potentially becoming lost?

Your Existing Locks

Your usual way of securing your front door might not be sufficient when you share your home with someone affected by dementia. You probably just lock the door, and then leave the keys in the lock (the inside portion of the lock, of course). You might also just leave them in a nearby dish intended for the purpose. In any event, you will likely be in the habit of leaving the keys near the lock, which is certainly helpful in the case of emergencies. But this level of door security won't be enough when you live with someone affected by dementia. 

Additional Locks

There are a number of modifications to your front door lock that will prevent someone with dementia from wandering, and they don't need to turn your home into a prison either. Perhaps the most straightforward way to secure the door is to add additional locks out of the standard line of sight. These additional slide bolts can be installed at the base or top of the door. Your loved one won't automatically notice these additional locks, even though they're essentially hidden in plain sight, with the keys likewise stored in the lock or nearby.

Electronic Locks

These additional locks might not be a suitable remedy for wandering, so you might wish to upgrade the type of locks on the door. A keyless electronic lock is helpful when living with someone affected by dementia. This can either be a bluetooth activated lock (which is paired with your smartphone), or a lock with a numerical keypad, requiring a code. You can also choose a biometric lock that requires an authorized fingerprint scan to open (which means that you don't need your smartphone or a specific activation code to use the lock). It's a simple and quick task for a locksmith to install an electronic lock.

You'll want to do everything you can to prevent your parent from wandering, and it's certainly possible to do this without turning your home into a prison.