New Website Helps Families Bring Wandering Seniors Safely Home

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When a senior living with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia wanders, it causes immediate panic and anxiety for family caregivers. If not found within 24 hours, up to half of seniors who wander are at risk for harm. Unfortunately, wandering happens all too often. In fact, nearly 50 percent of families caring for loved ones with Alzheimer's have experienced a loved one wandering*, according to a new survey conducted for Home Instead, Inc. To help family caregivers keep their aging loved ones safe, Home Instead Senior Care has launched a free, nationwide alert system, Missing Senior NetworkSM, available at

"We understand the stress experienced by family caregivers who lose sleep over the worry that their loved one living with Alzheimer's disease or another dementia may leave unannounced," explains Jeff Huber, CEO of Home Instead Senior Care. "We wanted to provide families with a resource that empowers them to take action when and if wandering occurs, giving them the ability to quickly alert their own personal network."

Family caregivers who sign up for the Missing Senior Network may alert a network of family, friends and businesses in the event their loved one goes missing. The mobile-ready platform alerts the network of a missing senior via text or email, and families can also choose to post an alert to the Home Instead Remember for Alzheimer's Facebook page, connected to more than 270,000 followers. All families coping with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias are eligible to sign up for the free, online program.

Since the soft launch of the platform, more than 1,200 individuals have already signed up, allowing them to quickly mobilize and use the free service in the midst of a wandering event.

The Missing Senior Network is part of Home Instead Senior Care network's nationwide Prevent Wandering program. The program includes resources such as insight into what may trigger wandering events, steps families can take to keep aging adults safe and tips on what to do if a senior wanders.

"All those living with Alzheimer's and other dementias may be at risk for wandering during any stage of the disease," says Monica Moreno, director of early stage initiatives for the Alzheimer's Association. "For example, they may have a personal need that must be met, or may try to go back to a former job that no longer exists. In fact, many who 'wander' are going somewhere with intent – to work, home, to the store, etc."

Family caregivers should be aware of the following common triggers that may cause someone with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia to wander:

  1. Delusions or hallucinations. Those living with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia may misinterpret sights or sounds, causing them to feel fearful and wander to escape their environment.
  2. Overstimulation. Individuals living with dementia can become easily upset in noisy or crowded environments, triggering them to look for an escape from the chaos.
  3. Fatigue, especially during late afternoons and evenings. Individuals living with dementia may become tired, causing restless pacing and, eventually, wandering.
  4. Disorientation to place and time. Individuals may not recognize they are home and seek to return to a familiar place, such as a former workplace. 
  5. Change in routine. Individuals living with dementia may become confused following a change of routine, wandering in an effort to return to a familiar place.

"As many as six out of 10 individuals living with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia may be at risk to wander," said Moreno. "That's why it's important to watch for the potential signs that someone could be at risk and have a plan in place."

For additional tips and program resources about Alzheimer's and wandering, visit or contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office to learn how family caregivers can help prevent or respond to wandering. Find the office near you by visiting

To access the Missing Senior Network, visit



Founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, by Lori and Paul Hogan, the Home Instead Senior Care® network provides personalized care, support and education to help enhance the lives of aging adults and their families. Today this network is the world's leading provider of in-home care services for seniors, with more than 1,000 independently owned and operated franchises that are estimated to annually provide more than 60 million hours of care throughout the United States and 12 other countries. Local Home Instead Senior Care offices employ approximately 65,000 CAREGiversSM worldwide who provide basic support services that enable seniors to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. The Home Instead Senior Care network strives to partner with each client and his or her family members to help meet that individual's needs. Services span the care continuum -- from providing companionship and personal care to specialized Alzheimer's care and hospice support. Also available are family caregiver education and support resources. At Home Instead Senior Care, it's relationship before task, while striving to provide superior quality service. For more information, visit

* During March-April 2016, Home Instead, Inc., surveyed 1,110 family caregivers across North America through an online survey. Of the respondents, 86 percent were in the United States, while 11 percent were in Canada.

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