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Dementia and Wandering

It isn't a matter of if... but when.

Wandering is a common but stressful symptom for people with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Over time our loved one loses their ability recognize familiar places and faces and wander away from their homes without remembering how to get back. It can happen at any time and can be triggered by many reasons such as stress, pain, confusion, or sleeplessness. This can be an extremely stressful situation to deal with and regardless how prepared you are or the steps you take to prevent it, wandering can and likely will still happen. 

The first time our mom wandered off she was gone for a couple of hours, she did find her way back home, but the experience definitely scared us.  The second time she wandered off we caught it right away and managed to get to her before she got too far down the road. The third time, we couldn't find her. We drove around for hours looking for her with no success. It was then that we realized how difficult it could be to locate her and what we would need to get together in order for the police to start looking for her as well. The horror stories we recalled hearing about seniors that wander off and are never found kept running through our minds. She didn't remember phone numbers anymore and we were positive she wouldn't be able to tell anyone what our address was. We worried she wouldn't be able to direct anyone to where we live. Luckily a good Samaritan saw her wandering and managed to get her home to us. 

After that incident we did what most families in this situation do, we started researching ways to keep track of our mom. We looked for GPS tags, security systems, deadbolts that were out of reach, put her information on file with the local police department etc... we discovered there is no foolproof way to keep a wanderer in and that they often find a way to get loose regardless of what precautions you may take. It was our conversation with the local police however that concerned us the most. Most police departments do keep a file of at-risk seniors and according to them missing seniors are something they deal with regularly. The problem occurs when the senior wanders farther away from home. Information about that person isn't known to every department and it makes it much more difficult to locate where they belong. This website allows at-risk seniors to be identified immediately by the general public so emergency services can be contacted and for emergency services to have immediate access to relevant contact information.

 

We believe in taking every precaution to keep our loved ones safe at home but also in taking every measure we can to ensure they can get safely back home should those precautions fail.  We encourage every family caring for an at-risk loved one to register their information. 

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