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Wandering and Alzheimer's Disease


Updated April 01, 2012

Wandering is a common challenging behavior that people with Alzheimer's and other dementias may exhibit. In fact, up to 60% of individuals with dementia will wander at sometime during the disease.

Wandering can be characterized by either aimless or purposeful movement.

  • Aimless: Some wandering takes place within a home or facility, where a resident with Alzheimer’s simply wanders down the hall or into the dining room. The individual may not be trying to leave or even located anything in particular. She may just be merely looking around.

  • Purposeful: Other wandering results from a specific need such as looking for food or a loved one, thinking that it’s time to go to work as they used to, a desire to go home or out for coffee, or simply a need to use the bathroom.

Tips to Prevent Wandering in Alzheimer's Disease

One way to decrease wandering is to try to determine the cause of it. You can also make environmental adjustments, such as placing stop signs in strategic locations, to prevent someone from leaving the house or entering a room that isn't safe.

How to Respond to Wandering Attempts in Alzheimer's

If those attempts to prevent wandering aren't effective and your dad is walking out of the house, do you know what to do? Being familiar with some strategies to distract him can help you calmly respond to his behavior.

What to Do if Your Loved One With Dementia Is Missing

This is one of those times we all dread and hope never happens, but unfortunately, it could. Knowing how to search for your family member or friend is crucial and can make a happy ending more likely.


Alzheimer's Association. Wandering. Accessed March 28, 2012. http://alzheimers.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=alzheimers&cdn=health&tm=42&f=22&su=p284.13.342.ip_&tt=2&bt=1&bts=1&zu=http%3A//www.alz.org/living_with_alzheimers_wandering_behaviors.asp

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