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Wandering: Addressing a Problem for People With Alzheimer 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 to a previous location
- 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 walks in the house by clearing hallways and rooms of clutter or go with them.
- 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.
- 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 and lower anxiety.
- Reassure your loved one that he or she 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 important numbers into your phone, such as your neighbors' phone number and the numbers of family members and friends who can help in case of an emergency.
- Think about the places your loved one might wander. Look in those places first if wandering does happen.
- Keep recent pictures or videos of your loved one.
- Learn about your neighborhood, focusing on places that may be harmful, such as 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 wearable GPS devices. These devices send wireless signals to a web program, providing you with information about your loved one's location.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 01/2016
- Update Date: 03/13/2014