Sheriff's Office

Wandering Prevention (Alzheimer's and Dementia Walkaways)

Wandering vulnerable persons are a growing concern in northern Nevada …we want to keep those you love or care for safe.

Please click HERE to view a brief video on Wandering Prevention and to access the Resource Guide

What is Wandering? "Wandering" refers to a variety of behaviors that may result in people with Alzheimer's, dementia, or cognitive impairments of any age becoming lost or having their safety at risk. Anyone who has memory problems and is able to walk is at risk for wandering. Even in the early stages of dementia, a person can become disoriented or confused for a period of time.

It has become an unfortunately common problem for people with cognitive impairments to end up lost. According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 6 of every 10 people with dementia wander. Missing persons with cognitive impairments have become an increasing concern in the Truckee Meadows. Local law enforcement have seen a sharp increase in calls relating to seniors with memory problems who had wandered and become missing. Although common, wandering can be dangerous- if not found within 24 hours, up to half of those who wander risk serious injury or death. In northern Nevada law enforcement and search and rescue have saved missing persons with dementia from dangerous locations near water, drains, and heavy brush miles away from home.

We want to help you keep them safe.

Please take a moment to review the video above...It could save the life of someone you love or care for.

It is important to remember that no one thing is going to ensure the safety of a person with memory or cognitive issues including dementia and alzheimers. We have collaborated with many community agencies to provide these practical strategies to help you minimize the risk of wandering and to be better prepared if wandering does occur.

If someone in your care does get lost, it is vital that you call 911 to begin search and rescue efforts immediately. With each passing minute the odds of finding any missing person decrease, but when the missing person suffers from impairment, the odds are worse.

It's important that you organize and regularly update vital information on the person you are caring for, such as a photo, physical description and medical conditions.

​Complete a Wandering Identification Kit and keep it in a place you can easily retrieve it for law enforcement. (A printable version of the kit is included in the Resource Guide link at the top of this page).TIt's a very important tool you can provide to law enforcement in the event someone in your care becomes missing or wanders. In wandering situations; every minute counts.

Alzheimer's patients do not wander without an actual cause; very few have hallucinations. They typically are going somewhere, looking for something, and don't actually consider themselves lost, so they don't reach out for help. Often they are found confused, frightened, and in dangerous environments that can affect their health and safety. Additionally, the stress experienced by families and caregivers when a person with dementia wanders and becomes lost is significant. Have a plan in place beforehand, so you know what to do in case of an emergency.

You can also get your FREE Wandering Prevention tote which includes a resource DVD, a door lock, screwdriver, door knob cover and more. We understand that caring for a person with Alzheimer's/Dementia or a child with cognitive impairments can present unique challenges. We want to help you keep the person you care for safe and give you greater peace of mind. You can pick up your free tote at Kids to Seniors Korner located at 224 Edison Way #500, Reno Nv 89502 or you can call them at (775) 858-5251 (5253) to arrange for delivery.

If your needs are more critical, we also have information on the Care Trak Services that offer bracelets that emit radio frequencies to people with Alzheimer's, dementia, autism and other cognitive impairments.A wrist monitor is placed on the person so if they become lost or missing, local law enforcement can easily track their location (up to 5 miles). Click HERE to view a short video on the Care Trak system. For more information and an application, contact Kids to Seniors Korner at (775) 858-5251 (5253).

If you have questions please call the *Northern Nevada Alzheimer's Association Call Center at 1-800-272-3900. The Call Center has staff that can answer your questions, and/or guide you to resources that could benefit you and those in your care. Please note that the Northern Nevada Alzheimer's Association Call Center can help you get answers and resources for all persons, young or old, who have cognitive impairments.

A special thanks to all the community partners that helped to create the Wandering Prevention Project:

  • Alzheimer's Association
  • Kids to Seniors Korner
  • Nevada Aging and Disability Services
  • Reno Police Department
  • Sparks Police Department
  • Washoe County Department of Social Services
  • Washoe County Senior Services
  • Washoe County Sheriff's Office

as well as our community sponsors:

  • Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada,
  • St. Mary's Hospital,
  • City of Reno Senior Citizen Advisory Committee,
  • Arbors Memory Care
  • JVJ Enterprises
  • More to Life