Some who wander are found

ALZHEIMER’S, YOUR PARENTS AND THEIR BEHAVIORS


“One day, out of the blue, your Mom knocked on our door and asked if we had a cup of coffee!” said Tom and Nancy, just after Mom’s Memorial service.  They were Mom’s neighbors’ four doors down.  “We said yes, and her face lit up.  We had never met before, but your Mom walked right into the house and made a beeline for the kitchen.  After coffee and a chat, she said, ‘Well, I better get home. Buzzy will be looking for me!’  And off she went.  After that, we made sure to keep coffee in the house.  And she came by almost every day for a cup!”

As Tom and Nancy reveled in the memory, only one question kept racing through my mind: “Dad sent her out for a walk…by herself?”

Even with Mom now gone, my heart pounded with anxiety at the idea that she wandered off and ended up inside a stranger’s house.

Protecting Mom from wandering out of the house had been an ongoing project for my sister Diane and me.  We knew that Dad, and only Dad, her daily Caregiver, could keep a “Mom-safety-system” in place.  So we put a great deal of effort into making it easy.  We lobbied for the house doors to be kept locked. Diane got Mom a medic alert bracelet.  I printed out photos for us all to keep on hand for showing emergency workers in case a Mom-hunt was ever necessary. 

It took more than a year before Dad really believed Mom might become lost on their street someday. Slowly, Dad began to enforce the “Mom-safety-system” and lock the doors, and see that she wore her bracelet. 

Has your Caregiver begun living as though it is necessary to help your Alzheimer’s Loved One stay safely at home?  Has your Caregiver begun enforcing a safety system to ensure your Loved One’s safe return in case of wandering when out shopping or at a restaurant? Sharing research and tips is one way to begin the conversation.  Perhaps in time your Caregiver will accept that wandering is common and could happen one day with your Alzheimer’s Loved One. 

For tips from the Alzheimer’s Association on keeping your Alzheimer’s Loved One safely at home, click here.

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