Assisted living for wandering, but not Alzheimer’s?

This is a great question that we received this week through our site – we’d like to invite anyone who might have input to comment. Thank you! – David (editor)


Is there an assisted living environment in the area, that caters to early stages Alzheimer’s patients who wander but are not yet appropriate for memory care?

My Mother has Alzheimer’s. She is in the early stages and is currently living in an assisted living facility, in Portland, Oregon. She enjoys her own apartment and the many activities that this environment offers. Lately, she has begun to wander from the facility. This, of course, poses a huge liability to my Mother and the facility. Some of the staff have recommended that we move her to the memory care unit. While visiting memory care, we observed people who were much more advanced in the disease. Many were catatonic, lifeless and immobile. Aside from some memory loss, my mother is still very lucid, savvy and mobile. She was very disturbed by what she saw. I feel that if put in this environment, she would decline emotionally, very quickly.

We have researched adult foster care but feel that my mother really benefits from her private apartment, coupled with many people and activities.

Is there an assisted living environment that monitors the doors closely, not allowing Alzheimer’s patients to leave without supervision or redirects them back into the facility? Or, is there a facility that has a secure outdoor setting, allowing people to wander outside without risk?

Please send any resources that you think might be viable.

Much Appreciation,

4 thoughts on “Assisted living for wandering, but not Alzheimer’s?

  1. Helen

    I am seeking the same kind of information. My aunt was diagnosed with dementia from Alzheimer’s in October 2008, and because of some early delusions and violence, was placed in a memory care unit. However, with proper dosage, she has not exhibited those symptoms for a year. She is highly functional — not only is she able to dress, bathe, and feed herself, she can also still cook, sew and garden.

    The doctor and the staff at her facility say she should still be in memory care, but I do not see anyone like her in the unit (ie., highly functional). I believe the lack of freedom, stimulation and exercise, in addition to being surrounded by people who cannot take care of themselves physically anymore, has contributed to a faster deterioration than she would have otherwise experienced.

    Are there any types of arrangements where the patient is provided her medication (she does not remember she has to take it) and monitored periodically for general safety, but is not a lock-down facility? I would be so grateful for any information or suggestions. Thank you.


  2. Carlyn

    Many of the communities I have visited have caught onto this need for “wandering” and have included an enclosed courtyard with a circular path allowing seniors freedom while not sacrificing safety. I’m not too familiar with facilities in your area, but good luck with your search!

  3. Adriana

    Hello Troy!
    I am in the same sort of situation… my grandmother has dementia and is a wanderer. In April 2010 she broke her hip and was in a rehab until it healed. While she was in rehab/nursing home healing her dementia started. She is now healed and walking around fine and actually walks kind of fast. She can take care of herself for the most part…needs help with cooking meals, medication, and maybe someone to keep her busy during the day.
    Anyway, we had her in a nursing home/rehab place in the Keys (Plantation Key in Florida Keys), then that place was shut down, then moved her to a new place outside of West Palm Beach FL (mid May 2010) and was kicked out last week for being a wanderer. They put one of these monitoring bracelets on her but she would take it off. Now we are moving her to a new nursing home in Fort Lauderdale. The facility is the only all secured nursing in Broward county. They have a okay mix of people but most are in the advanced stages but at least here she can walk around through the only place and not just a small wing of a nursing home. This place is the best of what we could find. We looked all over South Florida and most places are not secured for a wanderer. We found another place in Boca Raton but they would not take her since she is combative and gets angry.
    Most secured homes we found were pretty scary and the people living there were very far advanced in the disease. My grandmother and grandfather were not very good with money and honestly didn’t expect to live this long (mid-80s) and have no money for a fancy dementia/memory care nursing home. So to find a nice place, secured, with Medicare/Medicaid is pretty much impossible.
    The best nursing home we saw but of course only take private pay and costs around $5000 a month (not including meds/doctors) is Arden Courts. They have a wonderful set up and very home environment feeling. Hope your mom has a nice bank account, owns her own home, or has a good insurance policy.
    My grandfather also has dementia and is a wanderer (now in a wheelchair). He is a WWII vet so he is in a pretty nice VA nursing home in Pembroke Pines FL. It is a new facility and everyone there is really nice.

    Anyway, thanks for listening to my rant and sorry about my improper grammar… i am in a hurry.

  4. jamila williams

    Hey guys I know of a awesome place in the Hollywood area,that you guys may be interested in. the entire facility is completely secure but you wold never notice. They go up about 5 different stages of wandering, dementia, and alzheimers. And their prices are quite comfortable. I am pretty well versed in the search of Assisted Living facilities, being that Ive worked for Assisted Living Facilities for the past years. It would be my please to offer you guys advise.