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Wandering: Addressing a Problem for People With Alzheimer's Disease
What Are the Risk Factors for Wandering?
- Coming home late from a routine walk around the neighborhood
- Attempting to do previous routines, like going to work or attempting to go home
- Moving around a lot, acting restless
- Having problems finding rooms in the house, like the bathroom
- Inquiring about old friends and family members (may indicate a desire to visit these people)
- Having difficulty completing chores
- Getting lost in a new place
How Can You Prevent Wandering?
- Make changes in and around your house, such as:
- Encourage your loved one to walk in the house more by clearing hallways and rooms of clutter.
- Install locks, alarm systems, and wandering monitoring devices.
- Fence in the yard and install a locked gate with an alarm on it.
- Label doors to explain the purpose of each room (especially the bathroom) and to discourage your loved one from exiting the house.
- Conceal or camouflage doors.
- Keep your car keys in a safe place where your loved one does not have access to them.
- Have a regular daily routine.
- Be sure that your loved one is always with a caring and patient adult.
- Try to identify when your loved one may wander. Choose an activity that may help to distract him and lower his anxiety.
- Reassure your loved one. Tell him that he is in the right place.
- Make sure that your neighbors are aware that your loved one may attempt to wander.
How Can You Be Prepared for Wandering?
- Program into your phone important numbers, like your neighbors' phone number, as well as the numbers of family members and friends who can help in case of an emergency.
- Brainstorm on areas that your loved one may decide to wander to. For example, is his previous home or job close by?
- Keep recent pictures or videos of your loved one.
- Learn about your neighborhood, focusing on places that may be harmful to your loved one, like rivers, steep hills, or congested intersections.
- Register your loved one with MedicAlert + Alzheimer's Association Safe Return program. This program offers benefits like providing an ID bracelet, storing information and photos in a national database, and notifying you if your loved one has been found.
- Look into GPS devices that your loved one can wear. These devices send wireless signals to a web program, providing you with information about your loved one's location.
Alzheimer's Association http://www.alz.org/
National Institute on Aging http://www.nia.nih.gov/
Alzheimer Society Canada http://www.alzheimer.ca/
Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/
About Comfort Zone. Alzheimer's Association website. Available at: http://www.alz.org/comfortzone/about%5Fcomfort%5Fzone.asp. Accessed June 13, 2012.
Home safety for people with Alzheimer's disease. National Institutes on Aging website. Available at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/home-safety-people-alzheimers-disease/home-safety-behavior-behavior. Updated October 12, 2011. Accessed June 13, 2012.
MedicAlert + Safe Return. MedicAlert Foundation website. Available at: http://www.medicalert.org/join/alzheimers-safe-return.htm?selected=Membership+Services%5FMembership+for+Adults%5FMedicAlert+B+Safe+Return. Accessed June 13, 2012.
Wandering and getting lost. Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregiver Center website. Available at: http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-wandering.asp. Accessed June 13, 2012.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 06/2012
- Update Date: 06/13/2012