Causes of Wandering in Dementia and Alzheimer’s Patients

4 Oct 2018

Many patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s wander. It’s a common behavior for them and once they begin showing signs of behaviors for wandering, their chances of wandering and becoming lost is significant. As a loved one or caregiver of someone with Alzheimer’s, this can cause much distress.

Causes of Dementia and Alzheimer Wandering

Researchers believe dementia and Alzheimer’s patients wander due to unmet needs and overstimulation. Since they often aren’t able to communicate effectively, they can’t express what’s wrong. This leads them to wander out trying to find a solution. Sometimes they’re wandering to find their way back to a location they think is their home.

Also, it might occur in some people in search of something or attempting to get to a place they recall like a favorite location or their workplace. Some individuals just wander because they’re feeling agitated or restless.

Some common causes why Alzheimer’s patients may wander are:

  • Searching: They may be searching for something or someone.
  • Fear or stress: They may be reacting to an overstimulating or unfamiliar environment, a situation they don’t understand or a loud noise.
  • Basic needs: They may want to go outside or are looking for food or a bathroom.
  • Boredom: They may be looking for something to do.
  • Following past routines: They may be trying to do chores, go to work or buy groceries.

Anybody with memory problems and can walk have a risk of wandering. An individual can become confused or disoriented for a certain time period, even in early dementia stages. Because of this, you need to plan ahead and become prepared for a situation like this. By planning ahead, you’ll not only give yourself more peace of mind, you’ll also be helping to keep them safe.

Some things you can do include:

  • Have your loved one wear a medical bracelet or carry some form of ID.
  • Let the local police and neighbors know they have Alzheimer’s and are at risk of wandering. Ask they notify you right away if they notice your loved one walking alone.
  • Determine what times of day they’ll be more likely to wander. Plan an activity for that time. Exercise and activities will also help reduce agitation, anxiety and restlessness.
  • Make sure all their basic needs are taken care of. Are they hungry or thirsty? Have they gone to the bathroom?
  • Don’t bring them to busy places that can cause disorientation or be confusing This may even be a grocery store or shopping mall.

Take advantage of the Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return program. They have a lot of information and resources available to help you with this particular problem. You may also

want to use a GPS tracking  system, or GPS elderly  locator. If you’re  loved one does wander and becomes lost, you can track them in real time and get to them  right  away.

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