Wandering and dementia

Psychogeriatrics. 2014 Jun;14(2):135-42. doi: 10.1111/psyg.12044. Epub 2014 Mar 24.


Wandering represents one of many behavioural problems occurring in people with dementia. To consider the phenomenon of wandering behaviour in demented patients, we conducted searches using Medline and Google Scholar to find relevant articles, chapters, and books published since 1975. Search terms used included 'wandering', 'behavioural and psychological symptoms', 'dementia', 'nursing', and 'elopements'. Publications found through this indexed search were reviewed for further relevant references. The term 'wandering' covers different types of behaviour, including aimless movement without a discernible purpose. It is associated with a variety of negatives outcomes. The aetiology of wandering is poorly understood and it remains an unsolved riddle. Wandering is an acutely distressing problem worldwide, both for the patients and caregivers, and it is a major reason for nursing home admission. Evidence on the effectiveness of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions is limited. It is possible that management of coexistent psychopathology would help to ameliorate this problematic behavioural disorder.

Keywords: behavioural and psychological symptoms (BPSD); dementia; elopements; nursing; wandering.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dementia / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity*
  • Psychomotor Agitation*
  • Walking*
  • Wandering Behavior*