All Who Wander Are Not Lost: How to Help a Senior with Dementia

Wandering is a common symptom of dementia, and it can cause concern among family caregivers. Wandering can be distressing for both individuals with dementia and their families, as it poses risks to their safety and well-being.

However, there are strategies and resources available to help manage this behavior. This article will explore ways to keep someone with dementia from wandering and discuss how a dementia care facility can provide invaluable support to families.

Why Do Seniors Wander?

Wandering is a common symptom, particularly in the middle and later stages of Alzheimer’s. It is characterized by aimless movement, confusion about surroundings, and a desire to leave the current environment. Most seniors who wander are looking for something, believe they need to get somewhere or are trying to meet a need. Someone with dementia may wander for the following reasons:

Disorientation: Dementia can impair an individual’s ability to recognize familiar places or navigate their surroundings effectively.

Restlessness: Seniors with dementia may experience restlessness due to anxiety, boredom, or unmet needs, prompting them to wander in search of something familiar or stimulating.

Sundowning: Some individuals with dementia may exhibit increased confusion and agitation during the late afternoon or evening, leading to wandering behaviors.

Five Tips to Prevent Wandering

While it may be challenging to eliminate wandering, the following strategies can help reduce the likelihood and control some of the risks:

  1. Establish a routine: Creating a structured daily routine can provide a sense of familiarity and stability, reducing restlessness and confusion that often triggers wandering.
  2. Secure the environment: Install locks, alarms, or door knob covers to make exits more difficult to access. Camouflaging doors or using signs such as “stop” or “do not enter” may also deter wandering.
  3. Supervise and engage: Providing constant supervision and engaging the individual in meaningful activities can minimize restlessness and increase their sense of purpose, reducing the desire to wander.
  4. Ensure safety identification: Use identification bracelets, tags, or clothing labels with the person’s name, address, and contact information. These tools help ensure their safe return if they do wander.
  5. Create a calm environment: Reduce noise, clutter, and excessive stimuli within the living space, which can contribute to agitation and restlessness.
Dominion of Louisville | Smiling senior woman walking down the community hallway with her caregiver
Jacob Lund –

The Role of Memory Care Facilities

If in-home memory care has become too difficult to manage independently, a memory care facility specializing in comprehensive care and support for dementia can help. These facilities employ a multidisciplinary team of professionals trained in dementia care, offering a range of benefits to seniors with dementia and their families, including:

A secure environment

Memory care facilities are designed with the specific needs of individuals with dementia in mind. They incorporate safety measures such as locked doors, secure outdoor spaces, and alarm systems to prevent wandering and ensure the residents’ safety.

Specialized care and support

The staff are experienced in managing dementia-related behaviors and can provide personalized care plans to address each individual’s unique needs. They are trained to recognize and respond to wandering behaviors effectively.

Engaging activities

Memory care facilities offer structured daily activities and programs designed to engage individuals with dementia. These activities stimulate cognitive function, promote social interaction, and reduce restlessness, ultimately minimizing the desire to wander.

Emotional support for families

Caring for a loved one with dementia can be emotionally challenging. A community can cover all the bases with more comprehensive offerings than in-home memory care. Memory care facilities offer support groups, educational resources, and counseling services to help families navigate the complex journey of dementia care. Families have peace of mind, knowing their loved ones are in a secure and caring environment.

With proactive strategies and the support of a memory care facility, families can help mitigate the risks and provide a better environment for their loved ones. Implementing preventive measures, creating a structured routine, and considering specialized care and support can significantly enhance seniors’ lives and provide peace of mind for their families.

Remember, seeking professional assistance and exploring memory care facilities can help alleviate the challenges associated with dementia care, ensuring a better quality of life for everyone involved.


Is it time to find help for your loved one and family?

Contact us today to schedule a visit and see how great personal care and dementia care can be. We’re here to help you navigate the challenges of dementia.

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