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Understanding the Different Types of Wandering

By brian barrick
March 27, 2014

Understanding Types of Wandering

Those working in the personal care home industry must be aware of the different types of wandering that can occur in residents suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Wandering is a serious symptom of dementia related diseases, and poses significant safety risks.

What is Wandering?

Understanding wandering is the first step for personal care home professionals. Often, those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease have a need to move, and although to a healthy person the wandering may appear aimless or confused, the patient believes they are attempting to accomplish a task, such as going to a job they used to hold or meeting someone important. It can happen at any hour and, if they are able to do so, the person may get outside, exposing them to extreme dangers.

Types of Wandering

The different types of wandering personal care home professionals must understand include:
•Aimless wandering – The patient seems to be walking with no apparent direction or purpose, because they are bored, although they may be stressed or uncomfortable.
•Purposeful wandering – The person may be trying to accomplish something. It could also be possible that they are hungry or need to use the rest room, but cannot recall how or where to go.
•Night-time wandering – Broken sleep patterns in patients can cause disorientation and restlessness, and there may be confusion about whether it is day or night.
•Industrious wandering – Residents suffering from industrious wandering incorporate repetitive behavior as they wander. They may recreate former schedules, such as attempting to get ready for work.

Working with Wanderers

Personal care home professionals should understand that wandering is a coping mechanism for those suffering from dementia, so it is important to allow the patient to wander safely. Be sure that any doors to the outside that are locked in a manner that the resident cannot unlock them. Hide car keys or outdoor clothing that could trigger the resident to want to wander outside. Prepare for times of the day when the resident may feel regress to a previous schedule, by engaging them in other activities to distract them. Familiar objects, photos and other items can reduce the chance that the resident will feel lost.

Wandering is a common problem among those suffering from dementia disorders, and personal care home professionals must understand the types of wandering and managing a resident when wandering occurs.

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