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Dementia and Wandering

Some people with dementia may need to wander—around the house or by going outside. They may be trying to cope with the tension that builds up each day by physically exerting themselves or they may have Sundowner’s Syndrome, which leads to increased agitation later in the day.

It is best to be prepared for the possibility of your loved one wandering about.

The best strategy indoors is to clear hallways and walkways of furniture and any other potential obstacles that they could trip and fall over. This may include blocking stairways with gates to prevent access and possible injury from falls. It may be necessary to place alarms near some exits so that you can be alerted whenever the person tries to leave.

Tell your neighbors about the dementia and the possibility of your family member wandering outside and have an action plan prepared. You should have a list of your neighbors’ phone numbers handy in case of emergency, and be sure that they also have your phone numbers. Also alert the local police department and ask if they can keep a photo of your loved one on file.

Plan a daily walk with them or other exercise that can help reduce their anxiety. A rocking chair can provide a soothing motion and also help relieve their tension.

Have this person wear an identification bracelet, necklace, or place identifying information in their clothing, eyeglasses, wallets, and purses.