Dementia can affect a person’s abilities to remember where they are and find their way around. As a result, they may attempt to leave their home, place of care or the company of others, when it is unsafe for them to do so. This is known as exit-seeking behaviour, or wandering. The following strategies can assist you in caring for a person with exit-seeking behaviour.
Why does exit-seeking behaviour occur?Leaving to go ‘home’Exploring the environmentFeeling trappedWhat to avoidUseful resources
Exit-seeking behaviour may be caused by a person:
Always alert the police as soon as possible if the person goes missing. The following general approaches can be tried to support a person who is trying to leave. They can be tailored according to the person and their situation.
In all situations, ensure that you avoid:
Shifting focus: Wandering is a short video that explains how to address exit-seeking behaviour caused by dementia.
I Want to Go Home! How to Distract and Redirect is a video describing how to care for people with exit-seeking behaviour.
DBMAS Dementia and Wandering is an animated video focussed on responding to dementia-related wandering in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
This downloadable guide outlines various Tracking and Monitoring devices available to assist in supporting people with dementia. (PDF)
Safe Return is a joint initiative between Dementia Australia and the South Australia Police to help ensure the safety of people at risk of becoming lost.
Safely Home is a joint partnership between Dementia Australia and the Missing Persons Unit of the NSW Police Force, helping people living with dementia walk safely by providing rapid and accurate identification if they get lost.
The Northern Territory Safe Return program gives dementia caregivers peace of mind if the person in their care wanders.This resource material is informed by literature and associate practice evidence. This guidance should be applied within your organisations policies and procedures. ©HammondCare Dementia Centre November 2018 (next review date November 2020)
Regarded nationally and internationally as one of Australia’s most innovative health and aged care providers, HammondCare offers hospital care, residential care and community services, as well as providing the Dementia Centre. HammondCare is passionate about improving quality of life for people in need and has a particular commitment to dementia care and research, as well as to people who are financially disadvantaged. To learn more about HammondCare, click here.