5 Causes of Wandering in People with Alzheimer’s

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5 Causes of Wandering in People with Alzheimer’s
Wandering is a common and troubling behavior in people with Alzheimer’s. An adult with the disease could get disoriented and lost, endangering their life. Seniors with memory loss may forget their address – or even their name — making it difficult for others to guide them home safely.

And it’s a common behavior in people with this disease. Six in 10 people with Alzheimer’s have a tendency to wander. Understanding the causes may help caregivers prevent it.

What Causes an Adult with Alzheimer’s to Wander?

Here are the leading reasons someone with Alzheimer’s wanders:
1. A senior with Alzheimer’s may be trying to fulfill their former habits or obligations, such as going to work.
A senior with Alzheimer’s may suddenly think they need to go to work and leave home to do so. Once outside, they may become disoriented and forget the next step, such as getting in their car or going to the train station. They might begin to wander with a purpose in mind, but without the knowledge to accomplish their goal.

2. Seniors with Alzheimer’s may wander in unfamiliar surroundings.
When someone with Alzheimer’s feels overwhelmed or is someplace new or crowded, they may wander to try to find a familiar place. This may happen in busy malls or shopping centers, popular tourist attractions, or on busy city streets.
Try to keep your loved one close in unfamiliar surroundings, and avoid busy places whenever possible.

3. Your loved one may be looking for friends or family.
A disoriented senior with Alzheimer’s may remember friends or family they haven’t seen in years as if they just saw them yesterday. They might leave to try to find these familiar faces and, instead, end up alone in someplace new.

4. Seniors with Alzheimer’s may get confused trying to find the bathroom or bedroom.
Many of us have been someplace new and made a wrong turn down the hallway trying to find the bathroom. Remembering that sense of disorientation offers some insight into how your loved one with Alzheimer’s may feel if they become lost in their own home.
Often, something as simple as making a left down the hallway to find the bathroom can confuse a person with Alzheimer’s. They could walk out the front door, instead. Once on the street, they might wander even farther away from home as they attempt to get back.

5. A person with Alzheimer’s may attempt to go home – even if already at home.
Seniors with Alzheimer’s may become confused and disoriented, even in what should be familiar surroundings. They may leave to try to find their home.

Understand Your Loved Ones Patterns

To better safeguard against wandering, pay attention to your loved one’s patterns.

  • Do they tend to wander during certain times of day?
  • What do they say as they try to leave their home?
  • Do certain environments make them more prone to disorientation and wandering?

From high-tech solutions like GPS monitoring systems to camouflaging doorknobs, there are many ways to keep your wandering loved one safe. Understanding their motivations is the first step.

Specialty Memory Care Programs

If you are struggling to keep a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease safe at home, the Five Star Senior Living memory care programs can be a solution. Our Bridge to Rediscovery neighborhoods provide electronic door security in the apartments, and secured surroundings so residents can leave the grounds only with supervision or in an emergency.

Bright, contrasting colors, visual cues and themed environments make it easy for wandering residents to find their way back to their apartment, enhancing their safety and giving residents a feeling of independence and empowerment.