Protecting a loved one with dementia who wanders

Sussex Police offer valuable advice and support to family members and carers to help protect loved ones living with dementia. The Herbert Protocol is a national scheme, introduced by the police in partnership with other agencies, which encourages carers to compile useful information which could be used in the event of a vulnerable person going missing.

Disorientation is sadly one of the major symptoms of dementia and it is not uncommon for people living with the condition to become confused when they are out and about and become lost in even familiar surroundings.

The reasons for wandering are multifold.

  • The person could be continuing a habit, relieving boredom, or simply using up excess energy.
  • Walking can relieve pain or discomfort and can be a distraction if they’re having problems sleeping or are feeling anxious. 
  • They may feel insecure in their current environment, or they want to revisit a familiar place.
  • Wandering understandably can therefore become a major concern for family carers anxious to keep loved ones safe .

What can carers do to keep loved ones safe if they do wander?

Being aware of why your loved one feels the need to wander can make it easier to find ways to distract them from doing so. The Alzheimer’s Society has guidance for carers to help them reduce the risks associated with wandering….click here for their Tips for Carers.

However, you can never eliminate the risks entirely so its worth finding out about and taking part in a scheme called The Herbert Protocol.

Carers, family members and friends complete in advance, a form recording all vital details, such as medication required, mobile numbers, places previously located, a photograph etc. This should be kept to hand and in the event of your family member or friend going missing, the form can be easily handed to the police to reduce the time taken in gathering this vital information.

The Herbert Protocol initiative is named after George Herbert, a war veteran of the Normandy landings, who lived with dementia. George Herbert dies whilst ‘missing’, trying to find his childhood home.

To find out more about The Herbert Protocol, and download the necessary forms, click the link here to visit Sussex Police website