Wandering & Dementia

Wandering is a common problem among people with dementia and refers to the urge to walk about or leave the home. Although exact estimates are hard to find, the Alzheimer’s Association reports that 60% of persons with Alzheimer’s disease will wander away from the caregiver at some time during their disease. Although a small proportion of individuals with dementia frequently wander aimlessly and may get lost, wandering is believed to be an unpredictable behavior. This problem is very worrying for caregivers and presents a challenge for the person with dementia’s safety and wellbeing. However, wandering may be a warning sign of a person’s need for stimulation, social contact, exercise, and maintenance of mobility.

Keep in mind that wandering may occur when….

Tips for dealing with wandering behavior


Information adapted from: Interview published by the Orlando Sentinel with Dr. Meredeth Rowe, ( University of Florida), on 2-17-06, “Q/A on wandering and dementia” http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_local_orlandocrime/2006/02/there_is_anothe.html

The Alzheimer’s Association’s fact sheet on wandering behavior, http://alz.org/documents/national/FSSRCaregivers.pdf (2007)

The Better Health Channel’s fact sheet on dementia and wandering, http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcpdf.nsf/ByPDF/Dementia_and_wandering/$File/Dementia_and_wandering.pdf (2007)


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College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida