Wander Walking – a contentious issue

Wander walking is something carers struggle to accept as a positive activity for those of us living with dementia.  Why do people with dementia get labelled as ‘wander’ walkers when everyone else in society simply ‘walks’? Maybe someone out there could enlighten me.

I’ve spoken to many carers who quote this as being one of the most challenging and stressful symptoms of those with dementia – the person simply walks aimlessly at any time of day or night. Carers have to go searching and police can be involved as the safety of the person is often a cause for concern.

It must be very traumatic for those carers who have the continuing worry that this might happen. Drugs are often used to sedate those with dementia to stop them walking.

From the point of view of someone with dementia, I love walking. If anyone tried to stop me walking, no matter how aimlessly it appeared, I’d be very sad and unhappy. Walking brings contentment and I imagine it has a similar impact on those in the later stages of dementia.

Me wander walking
Me wander walking

Using physical or chemical restraints isn’t the right answer. Sarah, my daughter, has worked in a home for those with dementia and the home was built in a circle with a circular walkway. The residents can walk to their hearts content, all day if they wish, round and round. They never get lost, they’re happy  and relatives and staff know they’re in a safe environment. Such a simple example of developing a way of solving a problem rather than preventing an enjoyable activity.

Could all you creative, innovative researchers out there invent something very quickly for those who still live in their own homes please. I may need it sooner rather than later – who knows! I’m sure there must be some technology out there that someone could develop – maybe a GPS implant so my daughters always know where I am – on second thoughts, maybe not………….Seriously though, a life without walking is no life at all.

A wander walk I did today with my daughter, Gemma
A wander walk I did today with my daughter, Gemma: Risby Lakes, East Yorkshire

About wendy7713

On the 31st July 2014 I was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. I may not have much of a short term memory anymore but that date is one I’ll never forget. I’m 58 years young, live happily alone in Yorkshire, have 2 daughters and I’m currently still in full time employment in the NHS. However, I’m now in the process of taking early retirement to give me a chance of enjoying life while I’m still me. I've started this blog to allow me, in the first instance, to write all my thoughts before they’re lost. If anyone chooses to follow my ramblings it will serve as a way of raising awareness on the lack of research into Alzheimer's. It will hopefully convey the helplessness of those diagnosed with dementia, as there is no cure – the end is inevitable. However, I’m also hoping I can convey that, although we've been diagnosed, people like me still have a substantial contribution to make; we still have a sense of humour; we sill have feelings. I’m hoping to show the reality of trying to cope on a day to day basis with the ever-changing environment that dementia throws at those diagnosed with the condition. What I want is not sympathy. What I want is simply to raise awareness.

5 thoughts on “Wander Walking – a contentious issue

  1. Well said Wendy. it is possible to carry a device which will show your loved ones where you are just in case they are concerned about your where abouts. Like most things it cost money. Kind regards. warren

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  2. Reblogged this on Before I forget… and commented:
    This is something I had not thought about before, but wow this is so relevant and overlooked. This is an excellent new blog by someone newly diagnosed with Alzheimers and well worth a look at

    I remember when I lived at home when I was 16-19 I NEVER stayed in any night. I would walk and walk, streets I had not walked down, the beach (such as it was), anywhere. Okay it was to get away from my mother, but no matter I loved walking, and wandering. I love wandering, being alone allows me to think, and enjoy what’s around me. Who knows when I am no longer able to explain this then it will be classed as ‘Dementia Wandering’ without reason.

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  3. Excellent post. I have re-blogged it because I think it is such an important issue. There are always solutions to things, and then they become less of an issue to be dealt with by chemical mean.

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  4. You shed light on a very important issue related to dementia – the experience of the person itself and the current practices in the caregivers’ community. I abhor the idea of using chemicals and restraints to prevent the PWD from walking, it seems insane! Lack of exercise will make a person lose themselves quicker. Accompanying a person on their walks on specific times during the day is one way for a caregiver and the PWD to spend time together. There are other ways of distracting a person who is at risk of wandering. The strategies will be unique to each individual family.

    There’s another aspect though. When my mom was wandering, she was cognitively functioning at a much lower level. She couldn’t read or write. I am guessing this meant her chances of getting lost might have been much higher than someone at a higher level of functioning, may be like yourself.

    The other aspect is of course, why do we want the person to stop walking? It’s because it’s inconvenient for us, the caregivers. This is the most troublesome aspect for me. I am guilty of many of these things, but now I realize, as I read blogs by people with dementia, that it’s not fair to the person. Unfortunately, my mom was sick long before the internet was such an integral part of our lives and I didn’t have the support of caregivers and she didn’t have the solace of knowing she wasn’t the only one.

    I am gonna tweet this post 🙂 And I hope you can continue walking for a long, long, long time. Be safe.

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