What Can I Do When Someone With Alzheimer's Wanders?

A fellow caregiver asked...

What should I do if someone with Alzheimer's wanders?

Expert Answer

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's. A Met Life Foundation Journalists in Aging fellow, she writes extensively about health and caregiving; four of her family members have had dementia.

Your primary concern is keeping the person safe. More than 6 in 10 people with Alzheimer's wander (pace the floors or walk away from where they live), and every year tragedies result.

Try the following safety measures:

  • Make the house safe for walking. Pick up clutter, throw rugs, wires, and plants that may be tripped over.
  • Make doors difficult to open. Try plastic pinch-grip doorknob covers or chain locks of a type that's unfamiliar to the person (such as a chain lock in place of an old button lock). Block sliding glass doors at the base.
  • Consider alarms that signal movement, such as chair pads, bed pads, and motion detectors. There are also bells that sound when a door is opened.
  • Enroll the person in a program that alerts authorities if they go missing, such as the Alzheimer's Association's MedicAlert + Safe Return. Many local police stations also run programs.
  • See also¬†How to Handle a Parent With Alzheimer's Who Wanders.