Dementia and Wandering: Strategies for Prevention and Safety

Dementia is a debilitating condition that affects millions of people around the world. One of the most challenging aspects of dementia is wandering. This is when a person with dementia wanders off without any warning, which can be dangerous and even life-threatening. How can we prevent this from happening?

Wandering is a common symptom of dementia and can occur at any stage of the disease. It is estimated that six in ten people with dementia will wander at some point, which can be a terrifying experience for both the person with dementia and their loved ones. In addition, wandering can put the person at risk of injuries, getting lost, or becoming a victim of crime.

If you have a loved one with dementia, it’s essential to take steps to prevent wandering and ensure their safety. In this article, we’ll explore some strategies for preventing wandering and keeping your loved one with dementia safe. From understanding the causes of wandering to implementing safety measures, we’ll cover everything you need to know to keep your loved one safe and secure.

What Causes Dementia Wandering?

Dementia wandering is a complex behavior that can be caused by a variety of factors. The most common causes of dementia wandering include:

  • Disorientation is one of the main causes of wandering in people with dementia. They may become easily confused and not remember where they are or how to get back home.
  • Anxiety is another common cause of wandering in people with dementia. They may feel overwhelmed and agitated, leading them to wander as a way to cope with their emotions or find relief.
  • Boredom can also lead to wandering in people with dementia. They may become restless and want to explore their environment, leading them to wander off in search of something to do or somewhere new to go.
  • A need to fulfill unmet needs can also cause people with dementia to wander. They may be searching for food, feeling thirsty, or trying to find a place to rest.

What Are Some Strategies For Preventing Dementia Wandering?

Give Clear Instructions

One of the most effective ways to keep someone with dementia from wandering is to give them clear instructions. This can include setting a strict daily routine and providing explicit directions when performing tasks. When instructions are given in a calm, consistent manner, it helps to provide an element of predictability that can help reduce anxiety and confusion which may lead to wandering.

Create a Safe Environment

It’s also important to make your home a safe and secure place for someone with dementia. This should include installing locks on doors, adding extra security measures such as motion sensors or alarms, and setting up a tracking device or GPS system so they can be located if they do wander off.


It’s also important to remember that wandering prevention is not just about physical safety, but also mental and emotional safety. Having a loved one or caregiver monitoring the person with dementia can help to ensure they don’t wander off when no one is looking.

Establish a Safe Place

Establish a “safe place” that your loved one can return to in case of an emergency. If possible, create a “safe place” such as a room in the home that is reserved for the person with dementia to go if they become confused or disoriented. This should be a secure area where they can remain safe and comfortable until help arrives.

Memory Care Communities Combat Wandering

Memory care communities are designed to provide specialized care for people living with dementia and can be an effective way to reduce the risk of wandering. These communities are typically staffed by trained professionals who understand the complexities of dementia and are better equipped to handle wandering when it does occur.

In addition, memory care communities usually have secure outdoor areas that allow residents to safely explore their surroundings without putting themselves at risk of getting lost.

Discover a Continuum of Care at Oasis Dementia Care

At Oasis Dementia Care, our mission is to provide the highest level of care for our residents and to also assist Tristate families that are dealing with dementia. We strive to get to know you and we care about providing the best care possible. If you’re interested in learning more about the community at Oasis Dementia Care, please contact us.


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