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Managing responsive behaviours in Aged Care – Part 3: Wandering

Managing responsive behaviours in Aged Care – Part 3: Wandering

Published By , 4 years ago

Welcome to the 3rd and final part of our blog series on managing responsive behaviours in elderly clients with dementia.

Over the last few weeks we’ve been focusing on this issue as it’s highly likely that you’ll be tasked with taking care of clients who exhibit these behaviours regularly, so it’s important to know how to deal with them. It’s an expectation and a requirement, in any area of Aged Care, that you have the knowledge and skills to provide quality health care to those who suffer with dementia.

Last week in Part 2, we talked about anxiety, and provided you with some insight into the triggers for the behaviour, and the strategies that you can implement to deal with it. This time around the focus is on wandering – a very common responsive behaviour in the elderly.

Potential triggers


We all get bored from time to time, and it’s no different for those who have dementia. Most of the time they are in a single place, and their desire to find something to do increases – and this leads to wandering. Where you and I would get up and find something to do, they won’t necessarily know where they’re going, and may start walking around without a specific purpose in mind.


Being afraid of something can cause an elderly client with dementia to wander off. This might be especially prevalent if they’ve just moved to a new facility with a lot of new faces, or have had a new carer assigned to them. The effects of their short term memory loss will cause them to become more easily confused, meaning a lot of people can seem like strangers to them. Often, the result of this is that they will attempt to try and get away from their perceived fear.


Dementia can cause people to feel very lonely, especially if they’ve just been moved into an Aged Care facility away from their family. The lack of familiar faces can cause them to feel isolated and left behind, so they might try and find their friends and family.

This could also be a result of them following past routines. They may have regularly visited their neighbour, or members of their family, and in their isolation, are simply following those routines to regain the social aspect that they used to have.

Strategies to deal with wandering

Ask questions

A really simple thing to do if you see an elderly client wandering is to talk to them. This can divert their attention, or simply satisfy the initial need to wander – such as finding someone to talk to. On top of that, through conversation, you may find out the root cause of why they’re were wandering in the first place which can help you develop future strategies.

Consider asking these three questions when engaging them:

  • What are you looking for?
  • Where do you want to go?
  • Can I help you?

Alarms and monitors

It’s not possible to keep tabs on everyone in a facility at any given time, so you need to make sure that there are measures in place to ensure that if someone wanders off, you can be alerted and easily find them.

Electronic bracelets with sensors can help to ensure that they don’t wander too far. These devices can trigger alarms to let you know if they have passed a certain point. More advanced pieces of technology can have GPS capabilities to assist with finding someone who is lost.

Walking program

Exercise can help to blow off steam and decrease boredom, meaning they will be less likely to wander. If you have a client who is particularly prone to wandering, then look to identify any patterns, such as the time of day, and develop a walking program to help prevent this behaviour.

For example, if they tend to wander at night, try to fit in a walk prior to dinner or bed time. Often, this can assist with satisfying the underlying need that causes them to wander in the first place.

Here ends our 3 part blog series on how to deal with responsive behaviours in the elderly – we hope you’ve enjoyed it and learned a few new things, too. As always don’t forget to leave a comment if you have anything to add.


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