Wandering Feet Typical of Alzheimer’s

Wandering generally becomes a critical, and dangerous, part of Alzheimer’s and something families find difficult to cope with.  However, wandering feet can endanger the Alzheimer’s patient so we must become alert to this situation.

They apparently have in their mind a destination but it isn’t a practical one. They may leave the house (or wherever they are) in all kinds of weather and in inappropriate dress. You may find them (hopefully you or someone you know does) on a city street, in your neighborhood, in the woods, along a country road or on a busy highway.

Keeping Alzheimer’s patients where you know their whereabouts becomes a serious challenge at some point in their care.  Also, they become very clever in escaping the safe bounds you’ve set for them.

Mark Warner has some good ideas on this topic to help the caregiver, as well as the wanderer, in In Search of the Alzheimer’s Wanderer: A Workbook to Protect You.

I was involved in the care of both my mom and my aunt (Mother’s sister) who developed Alzheimer’s and reached the wandering stage. They would try to (and occasionally did) leave the house in all kinds of weather when they made up their minds about reaching a particular destination. They could not understand why you wouldn’t let them.

They didn’t realize they were no longer capable of caring for themselves, that their destination might be impractical…and that it may no longer exist.  Both Mother and Auntie, at some point, wanted to go back to places of their childhood which no longer were there.

So learning techniques of keeping track of the Alzheimer’s wanderers and diverting them from their path when wandering feet seemed likely to take over becomes important for the caregiver.