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Dementia and Wandering Behaviour -Bringing Individuals Safely Home CCSMH -Sep 24-25, 2007 PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Dementia and Wandering Behaviour -Bringing Individuals Safely Home CCSMH -Sep 24-25, 2007. Enka Xhixha Safely Home Coordinator, Alzheimer Society of Canada Kari Quinn-Humphrey Public Education Coordinator, Alzheimer Society of Toronto.

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Dementia and Wandering Behaviour -Bringing Individuals Safely Home CCSMH -Sep 24-25, 2007

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Dementia and wandering behaviour bringing individuals safely home ccsmh sep 24 25 2007 l.jpg

Dementia and Wandering Behaviour-Bringing Individuals Safely HomeCCSMH-Sep 24-25, 2007


Safely Home Coordinator, Alzheimer Society of Canada

Kari Quinn-Humphrey

Public Education Coordinator, Alzheimer Society of Toronto

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There is no apparent conflict(s) of interest that may have a direct bearing on the subject matter of this presentation.

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one national office

10 provincial organizations and

more than 140 local groups across the country.

The Alzheimer Society of CanadaIs a federation of provincial and local offices nation-wide dedicated to providing support, information and education to people with Alzheimer's disease, families, physicians and health-care providers; raising public awareness and public education about the prevention of the disease.

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The Alzheimer Society of Canada

Programs and Services

  • Research – 2.5 M annually invested in Research

  • Support and Information

  • Public Awareness

  • Safely Home

    Help for today. Hope for tomorrow...

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  • Over 35,000 people in Toronto have Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia

  • An estimated 450,000 people in Canada have Alzheimer’s or a related disease

  • By the year 2031, over 750,000 Canadians will have Alzheimer’s disease

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Alzheimer’s Frontal Lewy Body VascularCreutzfeldt

Disease Temporal Disease Dementia Jakob DementiaDisease

Dementia Defined

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Alzheimer’s Disease Defined

  • Progressive: the amount of damage increases over time

  • Degenerative: the nerve cells/neurons in the brain deteriorate

  • Irreversible: damage cause by disease cannot be repaired

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Changes in the Brain

  • Neurofibrillary tangles

  • Amyloid plaque

  • Brain atrophy

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The Journey: Early Stage

Abilities AffectedTypical Symptoms

Mental Abilities-Mild forgetfulness

-Difficulty processing new information

-Difficulty concentrating

-Problems with orientation

-Communication difficulties

Moods and Emotions-Mood shifts





Physical Abilities-Coordination problems

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The Journey: Middle Stage

Abilities AffectedTypical Symptoms

Mental Abilities-Continued memory lapses

-Forgetful about recent personal history

-Disorientation re time and place

Moods and Emotions-Personality changes

-Mood changes

Behaviours-Declining concentration


-Restlessness/ WANDERING


Physical Abilities-Require assistance with daily tasks

-Disrupted sleep patterns

-Appetite fluctuations

- Visual spatial problems

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The Journey: Late Stage

Abilities AffectedTypical Symptoms

Mental Abilities-Abilities continue to decline

-Inability to process information

-Severe disorientation

Moods and Emotions-Range of emotions and feelings remain

-Possible withdrawal

Behaviours-Non-verbal methods of communication

-Responds to music/touch

Physical Abilities-Sleeps longer and more often


-Loses ability to speak


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Wandering Defined

Purposeful behavior that attempts

to fulfill a particular need

  • The tendency to move about, either in a seemingly aimless or disoriented fashion, in pursuit of an indefinable or unobtainable goal


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“All people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias should be considered a risk of wandering and getting lost.”

Silverstein,et al., (2002)

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Types of Wandering

  • Passive wandering

  • Purposeful wandering

  • Nighttime wandering

  • Industrious wandering

  • Other: Checking/trailing, puttering, excessive activity, attempt to escape/leave.

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Reasons behind Wandering

  • Medication

  • Stress

  • Time confusion

  • Basic needs

  • Restlessness

  • Lack of recognition

  • Fear

  • Past behaviour/delusions

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Unique Traits

People with Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Their path may not be a logical one.

  • Often walk in a straight line:

    will go straight across fields, creeks, climb over obstruction areas… rather than selecting the path of least resistance, such as the road. Often end up in a secluded spot hidden by brush or other cover.

  • Are often not aware that they are lost.

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Unique Traits

People with Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Have a 50% chance of being injured or dying from exposure, hypothermia or drowning if they are not found within the first 12 hours — SEARCH IS AN EMERGENCY! 

  • May be in a heightened state of anxiety and tend to be hidden from their searchers.

  • People not involved in the official search often find them: Notify the community!

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Communicating with a wandering person

  • Approach slowly from the front and introduce yourself

  • Speak slowly and calmly

  • Ask one question and give one direction at a time, repeat if necessary

  • Keep your instructions positive

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Preventing wandering-Caregiver’s Guidelines

  • Secure your living area:locks, electronic buzzers or chimes on doors, disguise doors with curtains or screens; safety devices, alarms, bells, monitors

  • Secure the outsideenvironment

  • Be aware of hazards: bodies of water, dense foliage, steep stairways, high balconies, hedges-limit access to dangerous areas. Fence around patio or yard. Camouflage gates or exits

  • Create circular paths or enclosed outdoors for safe wandering

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Preventing Wandering-Caregiver’s Guidelines


  • Structured day

  • Encourage movement and exercise: supervised walking, offer to drive

  • Be objective

  • Continually reassure the person who may feel lost or abandoned.

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Preventing Wandering-Caregiver’s Guidelines


  • Notify neighbours

  • Inform local police


  • Precaution and supervision

  • Register with Safely Home

  • Wandering technology devices: GPS tracking devices

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Safely HomeTM - Alzheimer Wandering Registry

  • Established 1995 – A partnership between ASC and RCMP

  • Ancillary database on CPIC

  • Registration voluntary – one-time fee of $35

  • Registrants receive an identification bracelet, identification cards

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Benefits of registering

  • Easy identification of the wandering person

  • Safe return of the wandering person

  • Access to the registrant's information beyond a local area

  • Peace of mind for the family/caregiver

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Safely HomeTM: Bracelet


Urgent See other side


Identification number

(linked to CPIC)

Person’s first name

Memory loss

Call police

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How Can It Help?

When a registrant goes missing…

  • The caregiver calls the local police.

  • Accessing CPIC, the police will find pertinent information about the registrant including personal history, physical characteristics and locations where the person is known to visit.

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CPIC Screen

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Data in the Record

A querymay result in obtaining any or all of the following information on the person(the comprehensiveness of the data depends upon how complete a record was supplied to the Alzheimer Society).

It may include:

  • Name, description, contact information.

  • Personal history, physical characteristics and locations where the person is known to visit.

  • Caregiver’s contact information

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How Can It Help?

When a registrant is found…

  • The community member will call police

  • The identification number from the person’s ID bracelet can be used to search CPIC.

  • Police notifies the caregiver.

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To Register Someone:

  • Contact the Alzheimer Society or

  • Download registration form from website

  • Login