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Wandering Behaviors and Activities of Daily Living Among Older Adults With Cognitive Impairment

Bowen, Mary Elizabeth PhD1,2; Rowe, Meredeth PhD, RN, FAAN3

doi: 10.1097/rnj.0000000000000148

Purpose The aim of the study was to examine the characteristics of wandering associated with preserved versus worsened activities of daily living (ADL) function.

Design Longitudinal prospective design. Twenty-two cognitively impaired residents of an assisted living facility with over 450 observations were followed up to 8 months.

Methods Hierarchical linear modeling techniques examine how wandering activity (episodes, distance traveled, gait speed), measured by a real-time locating system, may affect ADL (the Barthel index, the Functional Independence Measure [FIM]).

Findings Wandering episodes were associated with increased ADL (B = 0.11, p ≤ .05, FIM); wandering distance (B = −4.52, p ≤ .05, the Barthel index; B = −2.14, p ≤ .05, FIM) was associated with decreased ADL.

Conclusion Walking an average of 0.81 miles per week with 18 or fewer wandering episodes is associated with decreased ability to perform ADL.

Clinical Relevance Tailored protocols that allow productive wandering with ongoing assessment for fatigue/other physiological needs to appropriately limit distance walked within wandering episodes are needed for this population.

1 The Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA

2 School of Nursing, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA

3 College of Nursing, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA

Correspondence: Mary Elizabeth Bowen, PhD, School of Nursing, University of Delaware, 25 N College Ave., Newark, DE, USA. E-mail:

Cite this article as: Bowen, M. E., & Rowe, M. (2019). Wandering behaviors and activities of daily living among older adults with cognitive impairment. Rehabilitation Nursing, 44(5), 282–289. doi: 10.1097/rnj.0000000000000148

Online date: April 3, 2018

© 2019 Association of Rehabilitation Nurses.
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