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About Wandering

What is Wandering?

People with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia may wander, become disoriented and be unable to find their way home. They can become lost even in familiar settings such as outside the house in local streets, at a shopping centre, travelling on public transport or on an outing or drive to an unfamiliar place.

Wandering can happen at any time or place and can put the individual at risk if they are not located and returned home in reasonable time. Wandering is quite common amongst people with Alzheimer’s disease and others types of dementia and can be very worrying for families and carers who are concerned for the person’s safety and well being. The person’s failing memory, disorientation and declining ability to communicate may make it impossible for them to remember or explain the reason for why they wandered.

People with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are at risk of wandering and perhaps becoming lost in their surroundings. Some individuals experience agitation and/or restlessness and feel the need to keep moving to alleviate this feeling. This restlessness is frequently goal directed. For instance, the person may wish to revisit a place that holds special memories for them or a place where they felt secure (e.g.: their old home, previous accommodation or place of work).  Knowing about these special places and ensuring that this knowledge is readily available to Police can save vital time in locating a person who is missing.

Reasons for Wandering

  • Changed environment
  • Loss of memory
  • Excess energy
  • Expressing boredom
  • Confusing night with day
  • Continuing a habit
  • Agitation
  • Discomfort or pain
  • A job to perform
  • Dreams
  • Searching for the past (Adapted from Alzheimer’s Australia Help Sheet.)

More information on wandering can be obtained from:

Alzheimer's Australia:             
Web site:
National Helpline: 1800 639 331

Carers Australia:
Web site:
National Helpline: 1800 242 636