More than half of all people with dementia wander at some point. They might leave their home on foot or by car, and have trouble finding their way back.
Wandering can happen at any stage of dementia. It can be dangerous. A person with dementia might wander outside without a coat or shoes, or fall, or have a car accident.
Those close to people with dementia can prevent wandering by:
- Keeping car keys out of sight
- Installing alarms that signal when a door or window is opened
- Putting stop signs on doors
- Avoiding shopping malls and other noisy places that can be confusing
- Reassuring the person if they feel lost or say they need to go somewhere
- Keeping a regular schedule with activities the person enjoys
Those close to people with dementia can prepare for wandering by:
- Asking neighbors and local police to get in touch, if they see the person with dementia wandering
- Having a recent picture of the person with dementia on hand
- Getting a medical alert pendant or identification bracelet for the person with dementia, if they are open to it
- Getting a wearable GPS tracker for the person with dementia, if they are open to it and tracking systems work in their area
Authorities suggest calling emergency services (911) within 15 minutes of noticing that a person with dementia has gone missing, to ensure the person's safety.