Reuniting after Wandering

A person with Alzheimer's disease who has been found will often be anxious and confused. Using the following communication strategies may help to calm the person and encourage her return home.

Approach calmly

  • Approach the person in a casual manner, making sure that she sees you coming.
  • If the person does not wish to return home immediately, walk a short distance with her while speaking in a calm, normal tone of voice.

Provide reassurance

  • Reassure the person about where she is and why.
  • Let her know that you have been worried about her and will be happy to see her return home.
  • Talk to her about familiar things that may trigger a response to return home. An invitation to have a cup of tea or feed the dog may be enough to prompt the person to go home with you.
  • The person may be determined to reach a particular location. If possible, consider taking her there right away or at a later date.

Keep your perspective

  • The whole experience of someone going missing can be extremely stressful. Remember that the behaviour is a part of Alzheimer's disease. Neither you nor the person is to blame.
  • Once the person is safely home again, it is natural to want to ensure that wandering does not happen again. The steps you take to prevent a recurrence should focus on prevention. Keep in mind that restraints should never be used as they can have serious effects, such as a higher risk for falls and skin breakdown, and have not been shown to reduce the incidence of wandering.
If you would like more information or assistance, please contact your local Alzheimer Society

Last Updated: 11/08/2017