If you are caring for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s, you may already know wandering out and becoming lost is major concern. They may see an open door and wander outside, only become lost and confused shortly afterwards. This can cause stress and panic for everyone involved. They may encounter people that want to help them during these meanderings, but if they can’t remember any pertinent information, assistance becomes difficult. If this happens during winter, it presents an entirely new concern, exposure to harsh elements. In this case, the best defence is prevention.
What is Dementia?
There are many different variations and forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s being the most common. These brain disorders can come with a variety of symptoms, such as:
- Memory loss
- Behavioural changes
- Impaired judgement
- Trouble communicating
- Loss of motor function
- Inability to reason
These are just some of the symptoms. Roughly 750,000 Canadians are currently suffering from dementia.
Caring for someone with dementia is challenging enough, reducing the stress and worry of having them wander off can be a big help.
The MedicAlert Safely Home program is a great option. This program involves your loved one wearing a MedicAlert bracelet with the necessary information to bring your loved home safely if they should stray. The bracelet includes a 24 hour emergency hotline that can be called to quickly identify and assist your loved one.
Once the hotline is contacted, all the pertinent medical and personal information becomes available to deal with the situation effectively. This bracelet should be worn at all times.
MedicAlert also provides relevant training to paramedics and police officers on how to deal with wandering episodes. Family members and caregivers are also contacted and apprised of the situation.
What Else Can be Done?
The likelihood of a dementia sufferer wandering at some point is high. Aside from the security of a MedicAlert bracelet, other precautions can also be taken:
- Implement structured daily routines
- Reassure your loved one if they feel lost or disoriented
- Signs on the door
- Keep car keys out of sight
- Identify when wanderings are likely to occur
- Increased supervision
- Home alarm system for extreme cases
You won’t be able to watch your loved one 24/7, but undertaking some of these helpful provisions can take the edge off a potentially stressful situation.