What to do when your loved one wanders

People with Alzheimer’s often wander1

About 6 out of 10 people with Alzheimer’s will move around aimlessly and/or attempt to leave their immediate surroundings. This type of wandering can lead to problems because of memory loss and physical difficulties that are associated with the disease. There are a lot of good resources that explain why people with Alzheimer’s often wander and provide tips about how to prevent wandering.

But what happens if your loved one does go missing? By reading about what to do in case of an emergency, you can be better prepared if your loved one ever gets lost.

What to do if your loved one is lost1,2

  • Use technology – There is a lot of good tracking technology that can help you and law enforcement find your loved one. These include medical ID bracelets that can help Good Samaritans assist your loved one, phone alert technology that can inform people in the community about a missing person, and tracking systems that use satellite or cellular technology to locate a missing person
  • Begin search and rescue efforts immediately – 94% of people who wander are found close to home, so focus your early search efforts in that area
  • Have identifying information – Keep a recent photo and medical information handy to give to law enforcement
  • Ask neighbors and friends for help – Since people with Alzheimer’s often have trouble identifying themselves, it helps to have as many people as possible searching for your loved one who know what he or she looks like
  • Find the familiar – Your loved one might head to places they know, such as old homes, restaurants, or places of worship. If any of those places are nearby, they might be good places to look or to discuss with law enforcement
  • Follow the hand – People with Alzheimer’s tend to wander in the direction of their dominant hand, so start looking in that direction first

Learn more about wandering and Alzheimer’s. 

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About Good Thinking

Good Thinking is for caregivers like you, supporting you as you face the daily challenges of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. We’re here to provide information and inspiration to help you take care of yourself and enhance the care you give every day.