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Alzheimer disease is a debilitating disorder that robs people of their memory and cognitive abilities. As it progresses, Alzheimer disease may cause people to become increasingly disoriented about time and place. This confusion can lead to a common problem—wandering.
If you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer disease, that person may be at risk for wandering, even if the condition is in the earlier stages. Be aware of certain behaviors, which could signal an increased chance of wandering, such as:
If wandering has happened before, it is more likely to happen again in the future.
While wandering is a common behavior in people with Alzheimer disease, these steps can help you lower the chance of it happening:
As much as you want to prevent wandering, you also want to be ready in case it does happen:
If your loved one is lost, call for emergency medical help right away. Be sure to tell the police that your loved one has Alzheimer disease. If you have registered with Safe Return, also call that company.
National Institute on Aging
Alzheimer Society Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada
About Comfort Zone. Alzheimer's Association website. Available at: http://www.alz.org/comfortzone/about_comfort_zone.asp. Accessed January 26, 2016.
Home safety for people with Alzheimer's disease. National Institutes on Aging website. Available at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/home-safety-people-alzheimers-disease/home-safety-behavior-behavior. Updated January 22, 2015. Accessed January 26, 2016.
MedicAlert + Alzheimer's Association Safe Return. MedicAlert Foundation website. Available at: http://www.medicalert.org/join/alzheimers-safe-return.htm?selected=Membership+Services_Membership+for+Adults_MedicAlert+B+Safe+Return. Accessed January 26, 2016.
Wandering and getting lost. Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregiver Center website. Available at: http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-wandering.asp. Accessed January 26, 2016.
Last reviewed January 2016 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 3/13/2014