A comparison of wandering behavior in nursing homes and assisted living facilities

Res Theory Nurs Pract. Summer 2005;19(2):181-96.


Wandering, a challenging behavior associated with dementia, affects many residents of long-term care facilities and can result in elopement, injury, and death. Most studies of wandering have taken place in nursing homes (NH). Expansion of the long-term care sector over the last 2 decades has resulted in a surge in options such as assisted living facilities (ALF). This study compared wandering behavior of residents (N = 108) in 21 long-term care facilities (15 NH, 6 ALF). Staff used the Revised Algase Wandering Scale-Nursing Home Version (RAWS-NH) to quantify wandering. While there were some differences in demographic variables (i.e., race, motor ability) between NH and ALF participants, no significant differences were found in either RAWS-NH overall or any of the 6 subscale scores. This suggests that the expression of wandering is similar in long-term care residents across all dimensions of the RAWS-NH regardless of facility type. Findings are of concern for those involved in the safe management and protection of residents at risk for wandering, particularly in long-term care facilities with underregulated staffing and training requirements.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Assisted Living Facilities / organization & administration*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dementia / epidemiology*
  • Dementia / etiology
  • Dementia / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Health Facility Environment
  • Humans
  • Interior Design and Furnishings
  • Male
  • Midwestern United States / epidemiology
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Nursing Homes / organization & administration*
  • Nursing Staff / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Management
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Walking / statistics & numerical data*