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.

Support Dad with his support group

ALZHEIMER’S, YOUR PARENTS AND THEIR HEALTH


“This retired Pastor in my group…” Dad begins, with tears in his eyes. “This Pastor says that over his career, he advised hundreds of people how to handle loved ones with memory loss.  Now he’s caring for his wife who has Alzheimer’s.  And he says that now, for the first time, now that it is his wife, he really sees it.  He really sees what Alzheimer’s asks from a Caregiver.”

Six months before, Dad still was yet to be a “Support Group” kind of person.  But today, stories from his fellow Caregivers are the fuel that keep him going.

I find that I am so grateful Dad has connected with others – people whom he respects and who are walking the Alzheimer’s Caregiver journey alongside him.

I smile with my realization:  try as I might, there is only so much that I can be and do for my Dad.

Does your Alzheimer’s Caregiver have someone who truly understands their daily life?  Encourage them to ask their friends if they know of an Alzheimer’s Support Group nearby.  Make some inquiries into someone who can stay with your Alzheimer’s Loved One during the meeting so that your Caregiver can attend focused and carefree. Consider if there is a way that you can help them attend even just once.  After all, one meeting may be enough to convince your Alzheimer’s Caregiver to attend regularly. This could be a game changer for everyone involved.