Tools to stop wandering may not be effective

Wandering occurs in 15%-60% of people with dementia, notes Louise Robinson, MD, a researcher at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in the United Kingdom.

Health care workers have turned increasingly to drug-free ways to prevent wandering. However, "there is no robust evidence so far" to recommend any of these alternatives, Robinson says. She and her colleagues recently published a review of 10 studies of wandering prevention strategies and 27 studies on the acceptability and ethics of the techniques.1

Exercise programs and "multisensory environments" of light and sound relaxation sessions can reduce wandering and restlessness, but the single studies supporting these techniques are of poor quality, the analysis concludes. The average age of participants was 79 years, from the seven studies that reported age.


1. Robinson L, Hutchings D, Corner L, et al. A systematic literature review of the effectiveness of non-pharmacological interventions to prevent wandering in dementia and evaluation of the ethical implications and acceptability of their use. Health Technology Assessment 2006; 10:1-124.