Alzheimer’s causes disorientation, which can lead to wandering. Here’s how to curb or prevent wandering, as well as ensure a safe return if your loved one is lost.
By Mayo Clinic staff
Alzheimer’s disease can erase a person’s memory of once-familiar surroundings, as well as make it difficult to adapt to new surroundings. As a result, people who have Alzheimer’s might wander away from their homes or care centers and turn up lost, frightened and disoriented — sometimes far from where they started.
Sometimes wandering is triggered by a particular medication. Often, though, someone who’s wandering is:
If you’re caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s, use simple strategies to curb wandering:
Despite your best efforts, it might be impossible to completely prevent wandering. Consider these techniques to accommodate wandering and keep your loved one safe:
Wanderers who get lost can be difficult to find because they often behave unpredictably. For example, they might not call for help or respond to searchers’ calls. Once found, wanderers might not remember their names or where they live.
If you’re concerned about your loved one’s wandering, inform your neighbors and other close contacts about your loved one’s condition. Keep a list of emergency phone numbers handy in case you can’t find your loved one. Keep a recent photo of your loved one on hand, too.
Also consider enrolling in the Alzheimer’s Association safe-return program. For a small fee, participants receive an identification bracelet and access to 24-hour support in case of emergency.
If your loved one is lost, contact local authorities and the safe-return program — if you’ve enrolled — right away. The sooner you ask for help, the sooner your loved one is likely to be found.