Many people with dementia feel the urge to walk about and in some cases leave their homes. Walking is not a problem in itself - it can help to relieve stress and boredom and is a good form of exercise. As with all behaviour, walking about can indicate a specific underlying need that the person with dementia has. Understanding what this is and finding a solution could help to maintain the person's wellbeing. This page explains some of the reasons why someone with dementia may walk about and outlines the ways in which you can help.
When a person with dementia often walks about, it can be worrying for those around them and may at times put the person in danger. It may not be clear why the person is walking about and this is often referred to as 'wandering'. However, this term is unhelpful because it suggests aimlessness, whereas the walking often does have a purpose. Rather than dismissing it, it is important to think about how the person's independence, safety and dignity can be preserved.
The person might walk repeatedly around the house, or get up and leave the house at any time of day or night. People with dementia can often experience problems with orientation, which may cause difficulties in finding their way home. This can make those closest to them feel very anxious and concerned for the person's safety.