Elderly man/woman with Alzheimer’s reported missing, be on the lookout for this person who has wandered away from their home …
I always cringe when I see these headlines, I know the fear of having a loved one who has dementia and gets lost while taking a walk. Shortly after my dad was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia he would decide to go for a walk at a moment’s notice. We knew that if he did and we didn’t notice in time that he’d get lost. I once spent a terrifying half-hour trying to convince him to return home with me. My (then) 5-year old nephew once noticed Dad wandering away from Mom in a store and brought it to Mom’s attention. Mom asked him to ask Grandpa to come back her way, which he did. Once, when Dad was staying in an adult family home, he decided to go walking along a narrow rural route with a 50 MPH speed limit.
Quite often when a dementia patient wanders it is because they are, in their minds, heading for a specific destination – such as school, work, their parents’ house or a friends’ house. What they are no longer able to process is that they may not be in the same town, state or country as their destination or the appropriate clothing to be wearing for the season.
It is challenging to keep an eye on a dementia patient 24/7, especially when they are otherwise physically fit. My dad was in his early 50’s when he was diagnosed and still quite fit and strong. This was the early 2000’s and at that time we discovered that our local sheriff’s office offered a watch-like device with a small radio transmitter that could be used to triangulate a location in case of a loved one wandering and getting lost. We got one of these ‘watches’ for Dad and while we still kept a close eye out, we felt safer knowing we had taken this preventative step.
With smart phone and GPS technologies there are many new ways available today to find your loved one if they decide to go walkabout. There are also bracelets and necklaces that can have contact information and condition alerts.
I would highly recommend taking a look at the tracking tools available and finding one that will work for you and your loved one. The peace of mind that you will find is immense.
Here’s a partial list of some ways to keep track of your loved one: