Wandering behaviour in community-residing persons with dementia

Diane A. Klein, Martin Steinberg, Elizabeth Galik, Cynthia Steele, Jeannie Marie Sheppard, Andrew Warren, Adam Rosenblatt, Constantine G. Lyketsos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives. To examine wandering behaviour in elderly demented persons in the community setting with respect to dementia characteristics and other factors that might influence wandering behaviour; to generate a statistical model to assess the relative importance of these various factors in predicting wandering behaviour. Design. Cross-sectional, case-control investigation. Setting. University-affiliated outpatient neuropsychiatric assessment center. Participants. Six hundred and thirty-eight consecutive community-residing new patients with dementia referred for evaluation. Measurements. Comprehensive neuropsychiatric evaluation, including rating with Mini-Mental State Examination; General Medical Health Rating; Comell Scale of Depression in Dementia and caregiver interview. Results. Wandering behaviour occurred in 17.4% of participants. It was significantly more prevalent in patients with Alzheimer Dementia (AD), patients with dementia of longer duration, and patients with more severe dementia. Wandering behaviour was associated with moderate to severe depression, delusions, hallucinations, and sleep disorder. Other significant associations of wandering behaviour included use of neuroleptic medication and male gender. After statistical adjustment for other variables, duration of dementia, severity of dementia and presence of sleep disorder retained significant statistical association with wandering behaviour. Conclusioin. Wandering behaviour among community-residing elderly dementia patients is associated with a number of factors, some of which may be subject to modification. It is possible that management of coexistent psychopathology, particularly of sleep disorder, and of the underlying disease process of AD would help to ameliorate this problematic behavioural disorder. Further investigation is warranted into the relationship between neuroleptic medication and wandering behaviour and into possible alternative measures to control agitation in elderly dementia patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-279
Number of pages8
JournalInternational journal of geriatric psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 1999


  • Alzheimer disease
  • Dementia
  • Elderly
  • Psychopathology
  • Wandering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Wandering behaviour in community-residing persons with dementia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this