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Signs of Wandering Behavior in Residents

By Heather Brown
March 11, 2015

Every 6 in 10 patients suffering from some form of dementia will wander. This is because most of them are disoriented in some way, and cannot remember who they are or where they live making it difficult for them too find their way back to where they are suppose to be. Catching the early signs before the wandering starts helps prevent the patients in an assisted living facility from becoming injured, lost or suffering from more confusion and distress. 

1. Restlessness 

If for some reason, a resident in your facility is restless, paces or makes repetitive moments it is a possible sign he or she could become a wanderer. Sometimes a restless behavior is a resident that is trying to go back home or back to a familiar place that may or may not exist.

2. Tries Filling Former Obligations 

Sometimes a resident suffering from dementia will wake up in the morning and try to get ready for work and fill former obligations even when he or she does not work anymore. Anytime you see a resident doing this it is time to keep a close eye on them and help inform them kindly as much as possible that there are no former obligations to fulfill. Tell them kindly with care that now they can rest and do other activities within the facility that provide enjoyment.

3. Asks Where Their Love Ones Are

Anytime residents with dementia ask where their love ones are, often try to leave the facility to go find them. This is dangerous because, “wondering where their love ones are,” is only a brief thought. They will forget this thought while wondering and become confused and distraught.

4. Appears Lost 

Sometimes residents that say they are lost even when they are not can develop a wandering behavior. The feeling of being lost will cause some residents to want to live the residents in hopes they can rid that feeling and feel like they are at home or some place familiar again.

5. Pretends to Move Objects

Sometimes residents that move around objects a lot have a tendency to develop wandering patterns. An example would be a resident that moves around pots and dirt without actually planting seeds or flowers, or is pretending too with invisible pots and soil. Another example is pretending to organize a closet or sweeping the floor to move things out of the way.

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