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Keeping Your Loved One Safe and Sound from Wandering

Monday February 17, 2014

All too frequently we hear a media report about an individual with some form of dementia being lost. The family will often report that they were planning to take away his car keys, or that she had never wandered away before….

The best advice I can give to you is that wandering and disorientation will likely happen. And if it has ever happened once, it will happen again – and again.

Here are my tips for you:

  • If you even remotely suspect that an individual should no longer drive, make that decision and take the keys/sell the car – whatever to keep them from behind the wheel now. Not after an accident or an unplanned trip has occurred.
  • Be certain that your loved one has identification on. That can be something as simple as a name/address/phone number inside a coat, to a laminated card in their pocket, or a MedicAlert or SafeReturn bracelet. If your loved one carries a cell phone, make certain that the location signal is on. They may be able to self-identify under normal circumstances, but will likely have difficulty if they are afraid, stressed, or hurt.
  • Share with your neighbors that your loved one has difficulties and share your telephone number with them, just in case.
  • The Collierville Police Department has told us that the minute you believe that your loved one has wandered away to call them. It is so much easier for the police to locate someone when the ‘dot’ on the map is small rather than 3 hours later after you have exhausted your efforts and now the dot is miles and miles wide. I’m certain other police departments feel the same way.
  • You can put wireless alarms on your doors with equipment from the local hardware store that is simple to install and is battery operated. We did this when my mother lived with us to alert when she was moving in the hallway and also if a door was opened.

Be safe and cautious rather than sorry.

Written by: Herbie Krisle, Executive Director