Alzheimer’s & Wandering: Strategies to Reduce the Risk of Wandering

For those caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, the worry of wandering can be omnipresent. Family members can feel on edge, always frightened that a loved one will get confused and become unable to find their way home. Even with in-home elder care, this fear is a constant reminder of our aging loved ones and their safety.

This fear is not unfounded. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly 60% of people with dementia will wander. With this in mind, it’s crucial for caregivers to enact personalized strategies to help quell the possibility of a loved one wandering off. The following, provided by our senior care entails four strategies aimed to reduce the risk of wandering.

  1. Enlist the help of a home health aide

For those caregivers that cannot be there to guide their loved one, a home health aide may be the best solution. These trained professionals can be there with your loved one to provide companionship, stimulation, and supervision. Thus, your loved one always has someone looking out for them to provide preventative wandering care.

  1. Cut back on the noise (audible and visual)

One of the best ways to create a wandering-averse home is to remove anything confusing or overstimulating. One of the main triggers of wandering is confusion. A blaring TV, obnoxious coo-coo clock, or intense artwork can overload your loved one. If they are met with this confusing stimulation, they may be motivated to leave for a safer space. Thus, it’s best to cut back on excess visual or auditory noise and keep it simple in the home.

  1. Practice the art of redirection

If you find your loved one wanting to leave, it’s best to engage the impulse and explore the reasoning why. Shutting down the conversation will do little to help the situation. Saying “No, you don’t need to leave because you are wrong” invalidates and confuses. Instead, try to meet the impulse and redirect to another activity. Ask open ended questions that will allow your loved one to interface with the memory that is inspiring their departure.

  1. Schedule time for fun

Oftentimes, wandering is inspired by a feeling of listlessness or restlessness. Thus, to quell these feelings, schedule time for engagement. Have a fun activity that will occupy and stimulate your loved one during the day. This can be a favorite hobby, time with friends, a visit from a home health aide, etc. The goal is to schedule an active day that will inspire a sleep-filled night.