"Wandering" is the term used when a resident leaves the facility without staff knowledge.
Residents who wander are either confused or have some degree of memory loss or dementia.
While wandering is not a common occurrence, the consequences to the resident can
be very serious.
Many residents live in nursing homes because it is unsafe for them to stay at home
alone. If your loved one tried to leave home without supervision, chances are they
will try it in our home too. By making us aware of this risk, preventative measures
will be taken to protect your loved one from this danger.
Some risk factors for wandering include:
- History of leaving their home or another nursing home without supervision
- Tendency to wander without purpose or direction
- Dementia or Alzheimer's disease
- Any illness causing confusion
- History of depression
- Feeling unhappy at the nursing home
- Trouble adjusting to new surroundings
- Difficulty seeing or hearing
- Increased confusion in the evening
- Poor sense of safety
- Feeling abandoned
Prevention of Wandering
The best way to care for a resident at risk for wandering is to try to prevent it
To prevent wandering, make efforts to:
- Identify residents at risk for wandering
- Redirect the resident to activities that focus them away from thoughts of wandering
- Evaluate the need for a wandering management program. This may include wearing a
bracelet or other device intended to alert staff when the resident tries to leave
a safe area
- Introduce the resident to other residents in the facility
- Help the resident make choices where possible (i.e., what to wear, when to bathe)
- Communicate with the resident to determine the reason for the behavior
- Observe the resident for events that trigger wandering or wandering behaviors
If your loved one has ever tried to leave home or another facility, please let the
nursing staff know at the time of admission.
What Can You Do To Help
- Notify nursing staff immediately if you believe your loved one has developed any
wandering risk factors after admission.
- Tell the nurse what may be causing or contributing to the problem.
- Tell the nurse what has been done in the past to stop this type of behavior.
- Encourage and talk positively about nursing home placement when visiting.
- Bring in personal items to help the resident feel more comfortable in the nursing
- Inform staff when your visit has ended.