Going walkabout


Registered User
Nov 24, 2019
My husband typically gets up 4/5 times in the night. It usually starts at 2am and he gets out of bed, puts all the lights on, has a shave and a shower, gets dressed opening and shutting drawers and cupboards until I'm completely awake, then goes downstairs while I try hard to get back to sleep. He tends to come back to bed within 15 minutes, getting into bed with his clothes on, then gets up again at 3am, 4am, 5am until I give up and get up myself, normally about 5.30am/6am.
One night last week he left the bedroom at about 3am without getting dressed, and I went back to sleep. He came back to bed some time later and woke me briefly, saying something about socks, but I was exhausted (usually am because of repeatedly broken nights) so I went back to sleep. In the morning I found that he had left socks in the kitchen covered in mud and tattered and torn. He was covered with bruises and scratches and it appears that he went out of the house in his vest, pants and socks and wandered about in the fields behind our house. He said he was told to do it, though he says he doesn't hear voices. This is certainly a first, and he's been checked for any infections or underlying illness. Has anyone else encountered this strange behaviour?


Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
South coast
Im afraid that wandering about outside at night in inadequate clothing is actually very common in dementia and its very dangerous. They can get lost or get injured, so its something you will have to prevent. Could you hide the keys so that he cant get out, but you can unlock the door in an emergency (like fire)? My mum used to go out during the night in just her nighty and as she lived on her own there was no way to stop her, so it was one of the reasons why she moved to a care home.

BTW - the bit about him saying that someone told him to is almost certainly what is called a confabulation. He didnt know why he had done it so his brain filled in the gaps and he thought he had been told to (after all, why else would you do that?)


Volunteer Moderator
Aug 31, 2003
I’m sorry to hear about the problems you’re having just now @Stayingalive. My husband used to wander and I had to keep the doors locked over night but I had the keys in case of emergency,

Is it worth asking your GP if he can prescribe something to reduce your husband’s agitation overnight?


Registered User
Jan 13, 2020
Social Services can get you alarms on your outside doors, you have a bleeper by your bed so that when the door opens it beeps. It's definately loud enough to wake you up!


Volunteer Host
Apr 1, 2016
I didn’t live with my dad @Stayingalive but I did get a call from the police at 3am one morning asking if I could go over to dad’s as he’d been knocking on a neighbour’s door (frightening the elderly lady who lived there and called the police) because he was lost. He was still on his own street! The police had managed to get him home safely as he was on their vulnerable list and although he couldn’t tell them his address it was on file. I’m glad he remembered his name!

I locked his front door and the garden gates and hid the keys so he couldn’t leave his property. I know dad was up all night too.

Dad told me he’d been down town and had a coffee in the co-op. He hadn’t of course. Dad was actually dressed for the weather and even had his hat on when he was found but it was February and raining.

Is there any chance you could get some respite for your OH? It certainly sounds as though you need a break.


Registered User
Jul 16, 2019
My husband typically gets up 4/5 times in the night
Hi @Stayingalive. I don't have any experience personally of loved ones with dementia going on walkabout during the night, another worry for you - has it happened since? I was wondering how long you had been dealing with these night time rituals? Do you have any care support with your husband? You must be permanently shattered if this is a nightly ritual.


Registered User
Nov 24, 2019
That event was a one-off to date, thank goodness. The night-time waking varies, sometimes it's night after night, in which case I am shattered and short-tempered, then I have a run of two or three proper night's sleep. The unpredictability is what makes it hard, if he were waking that way every night, I would have to get night-time waking carers in, but he does it for a bit, then starts sleeping for a few days, then starts waking again. This evening he doesn't know who I am and he's walking round the house very agitated saying he has to go out to look for his wife. I've tried going through photo albums with him but that's not working. I feel sad for him because he's upset and convinced that I'm out there in the cold and dark somewhere and need his help. It's a lovely demonstration of how much he cares for me, but at the same time he doesn't know who I am. This illness is vicious, it steals our partners away. My daughters want me to put him in a care home for a week a month so I can rely on getting a proper sleep, because on the nights when he does sleep I lie there awake on tenterhooks thinking that he's going to wake up. Don't know if he'll agree to this but it's probably a way of protecting my well-being. I just fear that the disorientating nature of being in a strange place will plunge him into worse behaviour when he comes home.


New member
Feb 2, 2020
I have exactly the same problem as you. Just when I think I can't go on anymore, he sleeps through the night.