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Alzheimer's Disease and Wandering

How to Manage Wandering in Alzheimer's Disease


Updated March 04, 2008

One of the more dangerous behaviors among individuals with Alzheimer's, wandering may be goal-directed (when your loved one may think that she is going to work or going "home" to a childhood residence) or non-goal-directed (when your relative wanders aimlessly).

Make sure your loved one has plenty of supervised activity to channel her energy and reduce the frequency of wandering. If she is intent on wandering, redirecting her to another activity can be a simple yet effective strategy.

Interestingly, Alzheimer's disease affects perception in such a way that environmental interventions can help curb wandering. For instance, a painted black square or a dark doormat on the floor in front of a doorway may look like a hole to your loved one, preventing her from exiting.


Behaviors: What causes dementia-related behavior like aggression, and how to respond. Alzheimer's Association. 2005. http://www.alz.org/national/documents/brochure_behaviors.pdf

Mace, N. L., & Rabins, P. V. (2006). The 36-hour day: A family guide to caring for people with Alzheimer's disease, other dementias, and memory loss in later life (4th ed.). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

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