Saturday, July 26, 2008

Seniors Who Wander

We lost another area senior citizen this week. A seventy-eight-year-old diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2002 wandered away from his home in the middle of the night and was missing for about a week.

Unfortunately, he was not found in time.

Following are several statistics according to the Alzheimer's Association, Michigan Great Lakes Chapter:

+ 6 to 10 - Number of people with Alzheimer's disease who wander.

+ 170,000 - Michigan residents over the age of sixty-five with Alzheimer's as of the year 2000.

+ 10 million - Baby boomers who will develop Alzheimer's in the United States.

There are several ways family members can help protect their loved one who wanders:

1. Consider registering the person with the Medic Alert + Safe Return program. The person is given a bracelet for identification if he or she wanders. To register call (888) 572-8566 between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

2. Place special locks on the doors.

3. Place warning bells above the doors.

4. Avoid leaving the person with Alzheimer's alone, either in the house or car.

Many times elderly people are living in the past and when they leave the house, they are searching for something they remember years ago. Unfortunately, it's part of the disease.

This information was first published in the Lansing State Journal, July 22, 2008.

Have you had experience with a loved one who wanders? If you have any ideas to share, please leave them in the comment section.

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