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Wandering | Management Strategies

  1. Ensure that the person you care for always has proper identification with them at all times. This should include their name, address and telephone number, so that if they become disoriented, they may be assisted by others around them. Look for information regarding a wandering person's registry in your area. In Canada, for example, there is a wandering registry available through the Alzheimer Society of Canada's website. This type of program is designed to help individuals with Alzheimer's Disease and other dementia return home safely following an episode of wandering.

  2. If wandering is comforting to the person you care for, allow them to wander in an environment which is safe. In your home ensure that rugs are taped down to avoid tripping, try and keep furniture to the side of the room and keep objects in the hallways to a minimum.

  3. If the wandering is due to an excess of energy, try to have the person you care for participate in daily exercise. Similarly, try and have tasks or activities to keep them from getting restless. Helpful tasks which they could perform are dusting, watering the garden or setting the table. Some recreational activities they may enjoy are dancing, playing cards or puzzles. Many people with mild Alzheimer's disease successfully take up supervised exercise programs, especially when it is provided in a targeted group setting.

  4. If the person you care for is determined to leave, walk with them and gradually change the course towards home. It may help to find a way to divert their attention such as asking them if they are hungry, if they would want to see the cat, etc.

  5. Safety becomes a major concern when an Alzheimer patient develops a lack of orientation. Make sure that the person you care for cannot leave the house without you knowing it. Baby monitors stationed strategically can help track their movement in the house without you having to keep your eyes on him or her. Place warning bells on doors leading to the outside so as to let you know when the person is leaving the house.

  6. Install secure locks on all outside windows and doors, especially if the person is prone to wandering. If a person can open a lock because it is familiar, install a new deadbolt which is higher up or lower down which they are not familiar with. Remove the locks on bathroom doors to prevent the person from accidentally locking himself or herself in.

  7. If the person you care for is prone to wandering, and attempts to leave their home setting, keep a recent photograph on hand in case of emergencies. Also helpful, is to notify close neighbours and friends to help you in keeping a close eye on them.

  8. When the person you care for returns after wandering, stay calm and reassuring. It is important to try and contain your frustration or fear because this could result in the person being more agitated or anxious. It is helpful to involve them into their regular routine as quickly as possible.

  9. A distraction might help - wander with them and distract to lead them home.

  10. Paint the door the same colour as the wall to disguise it.

  11. If the person with dementia has specific places they tend to wander to, alert the people who work there of who to call if they show up.

See Also:
Symptom Library > Behaviour > Delusions and Paranoia
Symptom Library > Personality Changes > Restlessness
Symptom Library > Behaviour > Disorientation to Place
Symptom Library > Behaviour > Repetitive Behaviour
Symptom Library > Personality Changes > Anxiety and Worry
Symptom Library > Personality Changes > Restlessness
Symptom Library > Behaviour > Disorientation to Time
Symptom Library > Thinking & Judgment > Unsafe Actions
About Dementia > Alzheimer's Disease > Memory
About Dementia > Treatments for Dementia > Exercise Program
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Last updated December 7, 2018
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