Alzheimer’s & Wandering

Six Out of Ten People with Alzheimer’s Will Wander

It is common for a person with dementia to wander and become lost; many do so repeatedly. You can not know when it will happen. In fact, over 60% of those with dementia will wander at some point during the course of the disease. Wandering can be dangerous – even life threatening – for the person who wanders. The stress can weigh heavily on caregivers and family.

There are various reasons for wandering which can include:

  • Confusion at certain times of the day or night.
  • Inability to recognize familiar people, places, and objects.
  • Fear arising from the misinterpretation of sights and sounds.
  • Desire to fulfill former obligations, such as going to work or looking after a child.
  • In search of an object.

In an emergency every second counts. In a move to significantly improve the safety of individuals with Alzheimer’s or related dementia, MedicAlert and the Alzheimer’s Association have formed an alliance to offer MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return. This is a live, 24-hour emergency response service for wandering and medical emergencies.

When a person with dementia wanders or becomes lost, his or her information and photo is provided to local law enforcement. When a person is found, a citizen or law official calls the 800-number on the identification product and the individual’s family or caregivers are contacted. The nearest Alzheimer’s Association office provides information and support during search and rescue efforts. In addition, should medical attention be required, access to a personal health record is immediately available.

To enroll a person with Alzheimer’s disease in MedicAlert + Safe Return, update a current enrollment with a member’s medical information or learn more about the program, contact the Alzheimer’s Association at 1.800.272.3900, your local chapter or MedicAlert at 1.888.577.8566. You may enroll a person or update a member’s medical information online at or

Article Provided by:
Alzheimer’s Association
(800) 272-3900, (503) 413-6850
MedicAlert (888) 577-8566

Posted April 2008. Markets: Oregon, Portland, Salem
Copyright © 2008 All rights reserved.

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