When your loved one has dementia, they may not remember their name or address, and can become disoriented, even in familiar places. Wandering among people with dementia is dangerous and it is one of the biggest concerns for caregivers. As the disease progresses, people with dementia may have difficulty remembering how to get to a certain place or where they just came from. Such forgetfulness can become more serious later on if people begin to wander off or get lost. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 6 in 10 people with dementia will wander at some point.
You may find your loved one wander away from you in a supermarket, doctors office or even at home. In many cases, although it may appear to people that the person is simply ‘wandering’ around aimlessly, they’re often trying to get somewhere for a specific reason – walking with purpose – it’s just that the reason doesn’t quite appear to tie in with where they should be at that current time.
Why are they wandering?
– Continuing with a habit or routine: if your loved one often walked to and from places or enjoyed taking a stroll then they may still continue to do this.
– Boredom: if they are lacking stimulation then they may walk away to look for something else to do.
– Excess energy: if your loved one is used to living at active life then they would need to adjust to their new way of living.
– Discomfort: they may need to walk off any discomfort they are experiencing and finding it difficult to express themselves.
– In search of something: they may suddenly decided to find an old friend they haven’t seen for a long time or they’re wondering where they parked the car (despite not driving for three years).
– Confusion: thinking that they need to get somewhere or wondering why they are in that specific place or room.
Anyone who has memory problems and is able to walk is at risk for wandering. Even in the early stages of dementia, a person can become disoriented or confused for a period of time. It’s important to plan ahead for this type of situation.