People with dementia may wander. They get confused about where they are or where they want to go, and they walk away or get lost. Sometimes people with dementia will try to go find a place they once were or look for something that they don't own anymore. Or, sometimes they just walk somewhere because they are bored or unhappy. Anyone with memory problems can wander.
Wandering can be dangerous when people get lost or go places where they can get hurt. Sometimes people with dementia will take a car and drive somewhere and get lost or get in an accident.
While anyone with dementia can wander at any time without warning, below are some things that might mean the person is more at risk for wandering.
Clues That a Person with Dementia is at Risk for Wandering
When caring for someone who shows those clues, there are things to try that make it less likely they will wander and get lost. These things don't work all the time, but they can help. They are listed below:
Things to Do to Make Wandering Less Likely
It is a good idea to have a plan in case the person does wander. The list below shows what should be in the plan.
Have a plan in case the person wanders
Remember that when making a plan to keep the person safe from wandering, do not do anything that can put them in danger. Don't lock them in the house. Don't use medicine to make them sleepy.
If the person wanders or goes missing, it is important to stay calm. Look around the area where you last saw the person and call 911. Once the person is found, don't be angry with them. They didn't wander on purpose. People with dementia do things like this and they can't help it.
Written by: Kelly A Raach. Regional Director, Alzheimer's Association"Desert Southwest Chapter
Alzheimer's disease and Related Dementia ~ Care Partner Information
Edited by an interprofessional team from the University of Arizona Center on Aging, Alzheimer's Association - Desert Southwest Chapter and Community Caregivers
This project was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UB4HP19047, Arizona Geriatric Education Center. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.