Managing Wandering in Older Adults

Wandering or becoming lost is a common occurrence for people living with dementia and it can be a major cause of worry for their family and friends. 

#HomeCare #Caregivers #Wondering #Dementia

Some reasons that people with dementia may wander include:

  • Short term memory loss – people with memory loss may leave to perform an errand but forget why they went out or where they are. 
  • Continuing a habit – if someone used to walk a lot they may continue to do so.
  • Confusing the past with the present – they may look for a person or a place or try to perform a task relating to their past. 
  • Confusion in the night – people with dementia sometimes struggle with insomnia and they may become confused or disoriented in the dark.

Some strategies to decrease the risk of wandering:

  • Ensure the person is always identifiable – this might take the form of an identity or medic alert bracelet or identification information sewn onto clothing.
  • Look for patterns or triggers that cause wandering – if wandering occurs at certain times of the day or when items associated with going out are present this may make wandering easier to prevent. 
  • Inform neighbours of the issue – having a friendly eye out in the neighbourhood can reduce any harm when wandering does occur. 
  • Provide safe walking opportunities – walking is a healthy way to keep active and manage agitation. Ensure there is a safe space for walking or that accompanied walks are offered regularly. 

Wandering can be a serious issue and can put people with dementia in unsafe situations. A carer can help orientate and redirect the attention of those with wandering tendencies, while also putting in place some strategies for your specific circumstances. 

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