3 Kinds of Safe Walkways for a Wanderer

One of the more useful ways to control wandering in someone with moderate- to early severe-stage dementia is giving lots of safe opportunities to do it.

This controlled wandering channels your loved one's energy. It also creates a habitual course that he or she may be more likely to follow alone when the urge strikes, which is safer than the risk of slipping away from home and pursuing an unknown course. Walking together also becomes a pleasant activity, and feeling happy may in itself minimize wandering. It's also a great companionship task for a teen or older child.

1. Clear a path through the house. Maybe the layout of the house lends itself for walking in a circle through rooms on one floor, or a large room can be rearranged to encourage a particular flow. Make sure there's no clutter on the floor nor any scatter rugs or extension cords that can interfere with safe walking.

2. Create a path in a fenced backyard. This works only in a secure yard, but it can be comforting to someone who likes the outdoors. Consider asking a local Scout troop to help clear brush and trod a clear pathway free of obstructions.

3. Walk a labyrinth at a place of worship. This option requires someone accompanying the would-be wanderer, but the unique shape of a labyrinth can be reassuring (and tiring, in a good way). Many churches have installed them for meditative walks.

Learn more about wandering.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio