Custom Search

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Lost and Confused from Dementia

Taking care of my dad (Jack) for so many years I know the fear that can plague your mind when it comes to being a caregiver for someone with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Dad was constantly wanting to walk or go somewhere but he didn’t know where he was going or why. And for a 68 year old man he could make good time when he started his walking adventures.

His last adventure from his home he managed to be found by the local Shrewsbury Police lost, confused and certain that he lived in Boston. Dad, nor anyone we knew ever lived in Boston? And because I had taken the preventive measures to simply write my phone number and address on a piece of paper in his wallet, the police contacted me right away. I met the Shrewsbury Police at dad’s house and that was when it was decided that he could no longer live by himself. Jack did however enjoy the ride in the cruiser because they ran the siren for him a few times. Dad aka Grandpa Jack was moving in with me and the girls.

Dad eventually needed more care than we could provide and we found a nursing home that specialized in residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. If you have ever been to that kind of nursing home you can not help but notice that many of the residents are walking non-stop, checking every door, and seem to be on a mission to go somewhere but they don’t know where.

Over at the New York Times they have a great article about lost or missing elderly loved ones that managed to get out into the world undetected by their care givers. It is becoming such a common event that many police agencies are undergoing new training on locating and dealing with lost elderly people that suffer from dementia or Alzheimer's.

Rising numbers of searches are driving a need to retrain emergency workers, police officers and volunteers around the country who say they throw out just about every generally accepted idea when hunting for people who are, in many ways, lost from the inside out. “You have to stop thinking logically, because the people you’re looking for are no longer capable of logic,” said Robert B. Schaefer, a retired F.B.I. agent who cared for his wife, Sarah, for 15 years at home through her journey into Alzheimer’s. He now leads two-day training sessions for the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services. Mr. Schaefer told his class of mostly police officers here in northern Virginia that unlike the ordinary lost child or hiker, a dementia wanderer will sometimes take evasive action to avoid detection, especially if the disease has made them paranoid about authority figures. - New York Times

This article had me thinking about the fears I had when my dad was at home. We could lock all of the doors but he knew how to unlock a door. And if he were determined enough then he could unlock any of the windows and be off at any time he wanted. If he ever managed to get out then where would I look? Where do you start when you don’t know when, where, how, or even if they are dressed for the weather conditions?

There are GPS Tracking devices available for people with dementia that tend to wander. I don’t know all the facts on them but here are a few websites you can check out. Most of them offer a service that you can access from your home computer to find your lost or missing loved one instantly.

Rocky Mountain Tracking
Buddi - GPS Tracking

I hope this information helps. It’s a large responsibility to take care of someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s and having the peace of mind to be able to locate someone instantly if they wander off is priceless.


Labels: , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


Blogger Sue said...

what a sweet post Mat. I've never dealt with an alzheimers relative, my dad died at 60 from cancer, and my mom is still with us and of sound mind at 80 yrs young!

Hope you are doing well! xo

7:32 PM  
Blogger Papamoka said...


I loved my dad with no question about it, still do these many years he has since passed away. He and my mother raised me to be the man I am today and I thank them both for that every single day.

The worst day of my life was when I had to take dad to the emergency room for an evaluation for nursing home care after he was progressively getting more violent with the kids and finally the wife. I was at catch 22 and most folks will call me an ass but I took care of my girls like he took care of his babies. He never once hit my mother in all of my memories and he would never have tolerated me letting anyone hit a woman. Including himself.

Be very thankful that you mom still has a clear mind. Take notes of the memories and enjoy them all that you can. Priceless.

9:23 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home