Is it common for my father to walk around the house a lot?

5 answers | Last updated: Nov 22, 2016
Brat551456 asked...

My father has dementia and he walks around the house a lot. He will sit down and get up several times. Is this normal?

Expert Answers

Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Also, she currently is in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. Ms. Koenig Coste also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

Yes, restless pacing by someone with dementia is a common behavior. It's a form of wandering, the most extreme example of which is leaving the house without telling anyone, or wandering off in public. Often there is a 'trigger' that may be found by keeping written track of when the pacing occurs. A need to be busy or a feeling of boredom may lead to this behavior or it may be a certain time of day that will be recognized from your tracking. Often this behavior happens late in the day and that may be the time to engage him in an outdoor walk on a regular basis. If he is simply exploring his surroundings, make sure your home is a safe environment where he can pace without fear of exiting outside the home or into hazardous areas within the home (non-edibles, stairs, tools, etc). You can read more about what triggers wandering and what to do about it here.

Community Answers

Terrysmith700 answered...

Hi Brat.

My mother puts in thousands of steps a day. We are in a small area so it means that she repeats the same patterns with her pacing. I see it as great exercise for her. She actually is more comfortable walking in the house than outside. I thought the outside would bring more to her awareness but she mostly watched the ground. Today for the first time in forever she recognized and spoke about the trees as we where riding. But there is one that can almost be touched from our 3rd floor balcony and she does not comment on it. Go figure. Thanks

A fellow caregiver answered...


A fellow caregiver answered...


My mother started having Altzheimers type issues and I sold my home and purchased a double so that I could monitor her without actually living with her. One of her activities was to go out the back door around the house and back in the front door. She did this for hours at a time and I was never able to identify any specific triggers. It drove my husband crazy, but she was content in the activity and it was excercise. We have since had to curtail this activity since she was starting to wander off(child proof door handles did the trick). We try to take her for a walk daily and sometimes twice a day if the weather will allow. She does wander the house occasionally and I do suspect this is due to boredom, but she refuses to take an interest in anything but the TV.

Red hill rebel answered...

My MIL almost has a set pattern to her morning walking/pacing. She lives on the lake and starts every morning by walking to the doors and looking out onto the water. She does this for the first hour of the day. The rest of the day, she will walk to the doors and look out and be content with what she is looking at. She makes a couple dozen trips a day from her room to where I am at just to make certain I am still there. She wants to be alone, but she doesn't want to be left alone. She takes comfort that I am in the house. I have noticed no triggers but feel that it is a continuation of the kind of life she had before the alzheimers.