Not All Those Who Wander are Lost


What does a poem from Lord of the Rings have to do with our topic? There are some lines written by J.R.R. Tolkien:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

I’m joined in this podcast episode by Dr. Lili Liu and graduate student Noelannah Neubauer, of the University of Alberta. They share more about their research on the issue of dementia-related wandering, specifically related to risks of getting lost, and what we can do to adopt successful strategies to manage this challenge.

Noelannah highlights in her research that 3 in 5 Canadians with dementia will experience the issue of wandering and getting lost. Part of her work is in developing assessment guidelines that look at the certain behaviors associated with different levels of risk in getting lost. She hopes these guidelines can be implemented on a broad scale to help care homes, community partners, and people living with dementia, choose the right tools or appropriate methods to help manage this challenge. Not all wandering leads to getting lost, which we talk about in this episode. Walking, as wandering, is a natural method of reducing anxiety and alleviating stress which has a positive impact on our physical and emotional health, and that’s an important point to highlight. We talk about certain technology tools being utilized in this realm such as the Life 360 appProject LifesaverMedic AlertConnect Protect and the Silver Alert program. All of these avenues can help mitigate the risks associated with getting lost for persons with dementia.

Dr. Lili speaks to the importance of global collaboration between researchers and industries and its ability to impact policies that affect our everyday life. These two ladies are amazing examples of true dementia advocacy and how to develop projects with outcomes that empower us to make personal choices affecting our health and well-being as we age, whether living with dementia or not.

We always close our episodes with some ACTION TIPS – for you to walk away with, and today I would like to highlight these few things:

  1. If you’re living with the condition of dementia, please know how important your voice is. Researchers and developers need your advice on projects that are affecting future policy in this realm, so don’t be afraid to explore these opportunities. You are the expert in knowing what tools, methods, and processes for improving daily living might be.
  2. Get active on communication channels. Follow Noelannahs work on Twitter: @Noelannahand join the conversation. You can also join Life With Dementia Podcast on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, or Instagram.
  3. As a listener not living with dementia, we have to do better allowing individuals living with the condition of dementia to make decisions that will occasionally involve risk. But in promoting that, we can also promote or offer techniques, safeguards, and strategies, such as Noelannah mentioned today. Someone living with dementia deserves the same independent decision-making rights as someone who isn’t living with. I would ask – how can we approach developing guidelines and policies with this in mind.
  4. Lastly, in talking about the specific challenge of persons with dementia getting lost, you can access the guidelines and associated strategies for handling this risk hereor through the show notes below. Noelannah and Lili hope these guidelines will help those living with dementia and other community partners plan for safe decision making while empowering independence.

We’re all aging and we want to age well by continuing to do what we love and maybe occasionally choosing a new path to discover something new. After all, for some of us, that adventuresome spirit is exactly what keeps us alive.

Join us next time on Life With Dementiathe solution-driven podcast sharing relevant research, personal stories, and practical tips for living well with dementia.

Tune in through SpotifyStitcher, or Apple podcasts, or stream live on our website, which is If you like what you read (or heard), please tell other people about it and share us on social media.

And lastly, become a dementia advocate by joining us on TwitterFacebook or Instagram.

Show Notes:

Finding Your Way Safely Guidelines (work by Noelannah and Dr. Lili)

Technology Products Repository

Summary of the Alberta Locator Device Project


Photo by RODOLFO BARRETO on Unsplash

Music by Blue Dot Sessions “OneEightFour”