Helping primary care to support people with dementia

Moving and walking about

June 20 2012

This Alzheimer’s Society factsheet explains some of the reasons why a person with dementia may walk about and looks at what you can do to help.

Download Moving and walking about

People with dementia may spend long periods of time walking constantly either in a repetitive manner, for example up and down a corridor, or outside walking long distances. Sometimes the person may walk familiar routes or take new routes unknown to them.

This can present many significant concerns for carers regarding the safety of the person. For example where a person is walking up and down a corridor constantly, concerns can be around the risk of getting physically exhausted or falling. Where a person is walking outside, concerns can relate to risks of getting lost or risks associated with poor traffic awareness skills.

Walking is purposeful to the person though it may be difficult for the carer to find the reason. Often the walking is associated with a past lifestyle or occupation.

What might help?

If a person with dementia wants to walk then it is important try to find a solution that lets them do so safely. Is may be helpful to consider

  • Provide a secure environment using the least restrictive options available (e.g. monitored/alarmed doors).
  • Local groups that help people with dementia to take part in leisure activities
  • Use of assistive technology such as pressure mats etc.
  • Provide for an obstruction-free environment as possible.
  • Check for safe & comfortable footwear.
  • Where needed provide supervision when walking.
  • Discuss with family – outline risks and benefits to walking opportunities.
  • Use colour, pictures and/or signs to orientate person to the environment.
  • Use of identity information should the person become lost.
  • Engage in reminiscence to connect with memories associated with past occupations.
  • Reassurance and comfort related to past triggers.


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