Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating disorder that robs people of their memory and cognitive abilities. As it progresses, Alzheimer's disease may cause people to become increasingly disoriented about time and place. This confusion can lead to a common problem—wandering.
If you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, that person may be at risk for wandering, even if the condition is in the earlier stages. Be aware of certain behaviors, which could signal an increased chance of wandering, such as:
If your loved one has wandered before, it is more likely to happen again in the future.
While wandering is a common behavior in people with Alzheimer's disease, these steps can help you lower the chance of your loved one from getting lost:
As much as you want to prevent wandering, you also want to be ready in case it does happen:
If your loved one is lost, call for emergency medical help right away. Be sure to tell the police that your loved one has Alzheimer's disease. If you have registered with Safe Return, also call that company.
National Institute on Aging
Alzheimer Society Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada
About Comfort Zone. Alzheimer's Association website. Available at: http://www.alz.org/comfortzone/about_comfort_zone.asp. Accessed March 11, 2014.
Home safety for people with Alzheimer's disease. National Institutes on Aging website. Available at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/home-safety-people-alzheimers-disease/home-safety-behavior-behavior. Updated September 13, 2013. Accessed March 11, 2014.
MedicAlert + Alzheimer's Association Safe Return. MedicAlert Foundation website. Available at: http://www.medicalert.org/join/alzheimers-safe-return.htm?selected=Membership+Services_Membership+for+Adults_MedicAlert+B+Safe+Return. Accessed March 11, 2014.
Wandering and getting lost. Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregiver Center website. Available at: http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-wandering.asp. Accessed March 11, 2014.
Last reviewed March 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
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