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Definition A popular term for a person, often with a mental disorder–e.g., dementia, who is admitted to one hospital after another, for a period of ≥ 4/years.

Comment Wandering may may have been more common in US Veterans Affairs hospitals, which traditionally offered free medical care and/or hospital admission for prolonged periods of time to any person who is a veteran of military service. While wandering has features overlapping those of factitious disorders, Munchausen syndrome, and drug seeking behaviours, it is considered to be a pathology a sui generis. 

Wanderer types

• Wandering patient So named if the wanderer has a treatable illness

• Habitually wandering patient So named if the behaviour lasts 5 + years

Reference Annals of Long-Term Care: Clinical Care and Aging 2003; 11:33-39

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