Non-intrusive Ways to Prevent Wandering in Dementia Patients

If you have a loved one with dementia, you know how difficult it can be to prevent them from wandering off. Whether it’s a fear of getting lost or a desire to simply wander, the risk of wandering is always present. However, it’s important to balance safety with quality of life. You don’t want to limit your loved one’s independence, but you also want to keep them safe. Luckily, there are non-intrusive ways to prevent wandering in dementia patients. 

Here are some of the non-intrusive ways to prevent wandering in dementia patients

1. Maintain a Routine

One of the best ways to prevent wandering is to establish a routine. People with dementia often thrive on structure and familiarity, so establishing a consistent routine can help them feel more secure and less likely to wander. Try to stick to a daily routine as much as possible, including regular meals, activities, and bedtimes. If you do need to make changes to the routine, try to do so gradually, and let your loved one know about the change in advance.

2. Provide Adequate Supervision

While you don’t want to be intrusive, it’s important to ensure that your loved one is properly supervised. This can include having a caregiver or family member present at all times or setting up a monitoring system that alerts you when your loved one leaves a certain area. It’s important to balance supervision with independence, so try to find a system that works for your loved one.

3. Create a Safe Environment

Creating a safe environment can help prevent wandering and reduce the risk of accidents or injuries. This can include installing safety features such as handrails, locks, and alarms, as well as removing any potential hazards such as sharp objects or tripping hazards. It’s also important to make sure that your loved one is wearing comfortable and non-restrictive clothing, and that they have access to the bathroom and other necessities.

4. Provide Meaningful Activities

Providing your loved one with meaningful activities can help keep them engaged and less likely to wander. This can include activities such as puzzles, games, crafts, or hobbies. You can also incorporate physical exercise into your routine, such as going for walks or doing gentle yoga or stretching exercises. It’s important to choose activities that your loved one enjoys and that are appropriate for their level of cognitive and physical ability.

5. Use Technology

Technology can be a valuable tool in preventing wandering. There are a variety of devices available that can help you keep track of your loved one, such as GPS trackers, wearable devices, and motion sensors. These devices can alert you when your loved one leaves a certain area or if they are in danger. It’s important to choose a device that is appropriate for your loved one’s needs and preferences and to make sure that they are comfortable using it.

6. Address Underlying Causes

Sometimes, wandering can be a symptom of an underlying issue, such as boredom, anxiety, or pain. Addressing these underlying causes can help reduce the likelihood of wandering. For example, if your loved one is experiencing pain or discomfort, addressing their pain management can help reduce their urge to wander. If your loved one is feeling anxious or agitated, providing them with calming activities or music can help soothe them and reduce their anxiety.

What are some signs that a dementia patient may be at risk of wandering?

As dementia progresses, it can cause changes in behavior, mood, and cognitive function. One of the most concerning behaviors is wandering, which can put a person with dementia at risk of getting lost or injured. Here are some signs that a dementia patient may be at risk of wandering:


Dementia patients who feel restless may wander aimlessly in search of something to do. They may feel bored or agitated and want to explore their environment.


People with dementia can become disoriented, especially in unfamiliar environments. They may not recognize their surroundings and may wander in an attempt to find their way back.

Memory Loss

Memory loss is a common symptom of dementia, and it can cause a person to forget where they are or where they were going. This can lead to wandering, as the person may be searching for something they can’t remember.

Repetitive behavior

Dementia patients often engage in repetitive behaviors, such as pacing or circling. These behaviors can lead to wandering, as the person may continue to walk in the same direction without realizing it.


People with dementia may become agitated or anxious, and wandering may be a way to cope with these feelings. They may wander to burn off excess energy or to distract themselves from their emotions.

Recent history of wandering

If a dementia patient has a history of wandering, they may be at higher risk of doing so again. It’s important to take preventative measures if wandering has occurred in the past.

Loss of inhibitions

As dementia progresses, a person may lose their inhibitions and engage in behaviors that they wouldn’t have before. This can include wandering, as they may feel less inhibited to explore their environment.

Changes in sleep patterns

Dementia can cause changes in sleep patterns, which can lead to wandering at night. A person with dementia may wake up and not know where they are, or they may have trouble falling asleep and decide to wander to pass the time.

It’s important to keep an eye out for these signs of wandering in dementia patients and take appropriate measures to prevent it from happening. This can include establishing a routine, providing meaningful activities, and ensuring that the person with dementia is properly supervised. By being aware of the signs of wandering, you can help keep your loved one safe and secure.


Preventing wandering in dementia patients can be a challenge, but it’s important to find a balance between safety and quality of life. By establishing a routine, providing adequate supervision, creating a safe environment, providing meaningful activities, using technology, and addressing underlying causes, you can help reduce the risk of wandering and keep your loved one safe and happy.

Do you have experience preventing wandering in a loved one with dementia? What methods have worked best for you? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *