When Alzheimer’s Patients Get Lost

Wandering and becoming lost is common among people with Alzheimer’s disease or other disorders causing dementia.

Understand wandering and how to address it

Nov 30, 2020

Mayo Clinic –  Wandering and becoming lost is common among people with Alzheimer’s disease or other disorders causing dementia. This behavior can happen in the early stages of dementia — even if the person has never wandered in the past.

If a person with dementia is returning from regular walks or drives later than usual or is forgetting how to get to familiar places, he or she may be wandering.

There are many reasons why a person who has dementia might wander, including:

  • Stress or fear. The person with dementia might wander as a reaction to feeling nervous in a crowded area, such as a restaurant.
  • Searching. He or she might get lost while searching for something or someone, such as past friends.
  • Basic needs. He or she might be looking for a bathroom or food or want to go outdoors.
  • Following past routines. He or she might try to go to work or buy groceries.
  • Visual-spatial problems. He or she can get lost even in familiar places because dementia affects the parts of the brain important for visual guidance and navigation.
  • Also, the risk of wandering might be higher for men than women.

Prevent wandering

...article continued below
- Advertisement -

Wandering isn’t necessarily harmful if it occurs in a safe and controlled environment. However, wandering can pose safety issues — especially in very hot and cold temperatures or if the person with dementia ends up in a secluded area.

To prevent unsafe wandering, identify the times of day that wandering might occur. Plan meaningful activities to keep the person with dementia better engaged. If the person is searching for a spouse or wants to “go home,” avoid correcting him or her. Instead, consider ways to validate and explore the person’s feelings. If the person feels abandoned or disoriented, provide reassurance that he or she is safe.

Also, make sure the person’s basic needs are regularly met and consider avoiding busy or crowded places.

Take precautions

To keep your loved one safe:

  • Provide supervision. Continuous supervision is ideal. Be sure that someone is home with the person at all times. Stay with the person when in a new or changed environment. Don’t leave the person alone in a car.
  • Install alarms and locks. Various devices can alert you that the person with dementia is on the move. You might place pressure-sensitive alarm mats at the door or at the person’s bedside, put warning bells on doors, use childproof covers on doorknobs or install an alarm system that chimes when a door is opened. If the person tends to unlock doors, install sliding bolt locks out of his or her line of sight.
  • Camouflage doors. Place removable curtains over doors. Cover doors with paint or wallpaper that matches the surrounding walls. Or place a scenic poster on the door or a sign that says “Stop” or “Do not enter.”
  • Keep keys out of sight. If the person with dementia is no longer driving, hide the car keys. Also, keep out of sight shoes, coats, hats, and other items that might be associated with leaving home.

Ensure a safe return

Wanderers who get lost can be difficult to find because they often react unpredictably. For example, they might not call for help or respond to searchers’ calls. Once found, wanderers might not remember their names or where they live.

...article continued below
- Advertisement -

If you are caring for someone who might wander, inform the local police, your neighbors, and other close contacts. Compile a list of emergency phone numbers in case you can’t find the person with dementia.

Keep on hand a recent photo or video of the person, his or her medical information, and a list of places that he or she might wander to, such as previous homes or places of work.

Have the person carry an identification card or wear a medical bracelet, and place labels in the person’s garments. Also, consider enrolling in the MedicAlert and Alzheimer’s Association safe-return program.


For a fee, participants receive an identification bracelet, necklace, or clothing tags and access to 24-hour support in case of emergency. You also might have your loved one wear a GPS or other tracking device. [ID bracelets made for runners (left) may be a good choice; we think they would be difficult for a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia to remove.] 

If the person with dementia wanders, search the immediate area for no more than 15 minutes and then contact local authorities and the safe-return program — if you’ve enrolled. The sooner you seek help, the sooner the person is likely to be found.

This article is written by Mayo Clinic Staff. Find more health and medical information on mayoclinic.org.


Flu, Pneumonia Vaccines May Cut Alzheimer’s Risk

Alzheimer’s Reversal Breakthrough?

Leading Cooking Oil May Cause Alzheimer’s

ALSO ON HEADLINE HEALTH TODAY: Cop Who Lit GF’s Crotch Still Jailed | China’s Deadly Cover-Up Of COVID-19 | Vaccine FAQs


- Advertisement -


Game-Changing Covid Treatment Pill May Be Just Months Away

At least three promising antivirals for covid are being tested in clinical trials, with results expected as soon as late fall or winter.

U.S. Is Discarding Millions Of Doses Of Unwanted Vaccines

The federal government is working with Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers to reduce the number of doses per vial, amid growing concerns about wasted vaccines.

Pop Star Makes Stunning Discovery: ‘People Are Scared Of Big Boobs’

“I lost 100,000 followers, just because of the boobs. People are scared of big boobs.”

Vaccinated People Are ‘Just as Likely’ to Spread Covid: True?

The Atlantic – For many fully vaccinated Americans, the Delta surge spoiled what should’ve been a glorious summer. Those who had cast their masks aside...

Biden Admin. Awards $150K To Florida District That Resisted DeSantis

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration said on Thursday that it was reimbursing a Florida school district that lost state money for imposing a mask...

Ivermectin: What The Evidence Says

Daily Briefing, September 21, 2021 ADVISORY BOARD – Ivermectin is an anti-parasite drug discovered in 1975. It was initially introduced as a drug for livestock,...

CDC Backs COVID Booster For Millions

AP – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday endorsed booster shots for millions of older or otherwise vulnerable Americans, opening a...

Doctors Charged In Massive Fraud Including False Covid Claims

NBC NEWS – The Department of Justice has announced criminal charges against 42 medical professionals, including 23 doctors, and nearly 100 other people for...

Middle-School Mom Rips School Board Over Anal Sex Reference

FOX NEWS – A Texas school district has removed a book from schools after an irate mother read aloud an excerpt about anal sex...

State Cops Sue Governor To Block Vaccine Mandate

FOX NEWS – The union that represents about 1,800 Massachusetts State Police troopers went before a judge Wednesday asking for a delay in the...
- Advertisement -