NPR has an interesting short article on wandering in dementia. Conditions likes Alzheimer’s disease can cause patients to embark on seemingly aimless walks and sometime epic journeys, but nobody is quite sure why it happens.
We are fascinated by the pilgrim, the lost soul, the sovereign wayfarer. In others. In ourselves. The literature of wandering ‚Äî Homer’s Odysseus, Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, Steinbeck’s Dust Bowl families, Star Trek’s questing starships, for instance ‚Äî fills shelves and shelves. “One wanders through life as if wandering through a field in the dark of night,” writes Lemony Snicket.
For dementia-driven wanderers, the desire to ramble can be amplified…
Scientists are also not sure why dementia often leads to roaming. But there is this sobering statistic from the Alzheimer’s Association: About 50 percent of people who wander will suffer serious injury or death if they are not found within 24 hours.
For this reason, wandering has been a subject of a fair amount of medical research. Unfortunately, it is still largely a mystery and all we know for certain is that patients who wander tend to be physically fitter but more cognitively impaired.
Link to NPR on wandering in dementia.