Florida man with Alzheimer’s wanders, rescued by deputies using SafetyNet System

Sheriff’s deputies in Hillsborough County, Florida, used SafetyNet to rescue a wandering man with Alzheimer’s disease in just 35 minutes this week.

The 75-year-old man’s wife called 911 when she realized her husband had gone missing during a walk and informed a dispatcher that her husband was enrolled in the SafetyNet service.

SafetyNet enables public safety agencies to more quickly find and rescue individuals with cognitive conditions who are prone to wandering and becoming lost. Clients wear bracelets that emit Radio Frequency signals that can be tracked by local public safety officials.

During Monday’s rescue, ground and air units picked up a signal from the man’s SafetyNet bracelet. He was found  unharmed walking several blocks from home.

The SafetyNet service, which has been available to Hillsborough County resident since September 2009, provides peace of mind to caregivers of people at risk of wandering by using the most effective technology available today for public safety agencies.

Ohio woman learns to be caregiver to mother with Alzheimer’s disease

There are four books on the table beside Theresa Hawk’s bed: What to Expect When You’re Expecting, What to Expect The Toddler Years, Alzheimer’s Early Stages: First Steps for Families, Friends and Caregivers, and Regina Brett’s latest book, God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours.

These are not books prescribed to her from her book club or The New York Times best seller list, as if to suggest Theresa, a Mayfield Heights resident, has time to belong to a book club or even read The New York Times. Rather these books are required reading for a set of life circumstances that she never expected.

Around the holidays in 2008, Theresa and her family began recognizing the fact her mother, Virginia, was having some real cognitive problems including memory loss. The problems came to a head when Virginia wanted to get a relative’s telephone number and went to call information. Instead of dialing “411″, she dialed “911″.

When the police arrived to investigate the call, Virginia had no recollection of using the phone at all. Theresa began to seek a diagnosis of her mother’s growing problem. Virginia was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2009 at age 60.

via Mayfield Heights woman learns to be caregiver to mother with Alzheimer’s disease | cleveland.com.

Survey: Alzheimer’s caregivers’ concerns

Family caregivers’ greatest concerns about the progression of a loved one’s Alzheimer’s disease are memory loss 41 percent, personal safety 33 percent and confusion 27 percent, finds a new survey.

The poll of 524 caregivers also found that 67 percent named at least one cognitive or thinking skills’ change in their loved one as a main concern; 55 percent said caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s has taken a toll on their own health; and 60 percent said they felt overwhelmed.

via Survey Reveals Alzheimer’s Caregivers’ Top Concerns.

‘Wretches and Jabberers’: A film that takes autism around the world

No one is going to mistake Wretches and Jabberers for Easy Rider. Yet the new documentary from director Gerardine Wurzburg could arguably be filed under “road movies” together with the iconic sixties film.

Wretches and Jabberers finds its story not only in the lives of two Vermont men with autism, Larry Bissonnette and Tracy Thresher, but also in their 2009 cross-cultural journey when they traveled with their assistants, Pascal Cheng G’79 and Harvey Lavoy, to meet other autistic individuals, educators, and advocates in Sri Lanka, Japan, and Finland. The film is a logical extension from Wurzburg’s past work, which includes Educating Peter, an Academy Award nominated film about a boy with Down syndrome in a public school classroom, and Autism is a World, which follows a young woman with autism as she goes to college.

“Our goal was to shine a light on autism internationally. Larry and Tracy’s journey allowed us to portray the global face of autism through the personal stories of six men and women throughout the world,” Wurzburg says.

via University Communications : University of Vermont.

Family, friends may spot early dementia best

When it comes to the onset of early Alzheimer’s disease, a person’s family and close friends are better able to spot the initial signs of trouble than traditional screening by doctors, new research suggests.

The finding, reported online in the journal Brain, is based on the apparent accuracy of observations gathered from family and friends in response to a carefully designed dementia questionnaire that is available in several languages and is already in use in clinics worldwide.

Called Ascertain Dementia 8 (or AD8), the questionnaire is designed to draw out observations on someone’s judgment, activity levels, learning capacity, forgetfulness, repetitiveness and overall thinking skills.

Answers given by family and friends to the questionnaire, which can be completed in two minutes, appear to correlate accurately with biological indicators of Alzheimer’s disease more often than standard physician testing, the researchers found.

via Family Friends Seem Best at Spotting Early Dementia – MSN Health & Fitness – Alzheimer’s Disease.

Riders with autism, Down syndrome take comfort, confidence on horseback

Children with autism and people with Down syndrome were among the competitors in Sunday’s Kiwanis Equestrian Competition for Special Athletes. Most began riding horses in therapeutic riding programs. Read the LA Times story about the daylong event for riders and their families:

Cathy Sulsona lives in a world where everyone looks down on her in her electric wheelchair. Sometimes passersby look right past her, or have trouble decoding her slurred voice. They see only the cerebral palsy.

But when she climbs on her quarter horse, she rises above them.

“I feel normal,” Sulsona, 43, of Riverside said as she sat next to her horse at Hansen Dam equestrian center. “I’m not looked down on.”

via Disabled riders take comfort, confidence on horseback – latimes.com.

Police study wandering of Alzheimer’s, dementia patients for search and rescue

Steven Williams, a San Francisco firefighter who lives in Oakland, Calif., had just finished a 24-hour shift when he returned home and told his mother’s caretaker she could take the rest of the day off.

His 88-year-old mother, Katherine Oppenheimer, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and requires constant supervision. Still, Williams thought he could get away with a 15-minute nap.

He awoke to find that she had wandered out of the home. “It was one of the scariest experiences I’ve ever had,” he said. “I would rather run into a burning building than go through that again.”

This time, Williams’ harrowing moment ended well. He found his mother quickly, a few floors up in the same apartment building where she lives. But like a growing number of families coping with the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease, he fears a repeat episode.

In 1980, about 2.8 million Americans had Alzheimer’s disease – the most common form of dementia. But with longer life expectancies and advanced treatment for other diseases such as cancer, that figure has nearly doubled in 2010, to 5.3 million, according to Elizabeth Edgerly, a chief program officer with the Alzheimer’s Association, a national advocacy group.

In all, 42 percent of people 85 and older will get Alzheimer’s, Edgerly said.To deal with the increasing numbers, police agencies are training officers how to search for wanderers.

“The ability to recognize dementia has improved over the last 20 years,” said Rick Kovar, emergency services manager for the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office. “The science behind searching for people with Alzheimer’s has become efficient and scientific.”

via Path of dementia less of a mystery – Family – Modbee.com.

Tips for getting Alzheimer’s patients to eat and drink more

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder that robs people of their ability to take care of themselves. It is a progressive disease which creates confusion and lack of movement in muscles. Alzheimer’s patients sometimes do not eat, and refuse meals because they do not recognize food. They have lost their sense of taste and smell, and they have difficulties swallowing food.

You will have to begin by identifying the reasons why they are not eating.

via Tips for getting Alzheimers patients to eat and drink more – by Jennifer Mcdonald – Helium.

California camp for Alzheimer’s patients isn’t about memories

When Samara Howard recently dropped off her elderly mother Johnnye Jennings at a three-day camp for people with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, it was the first night she’d been away from Jennings in seven years.

“Normally, I only sleep maybe two hours a night because she wakes up and she wanders and she turns on the stove,” says Howard, who eventually had to quit her job to take care of her mother full-time.

“I haven’t slept through the night in years.

You hear these stories of exhaustion and frustration often from the families of the roughly 5 million Americans who have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Confusion, wandering and agitation are common with dementia, and usually any break in the daily routine only increases those reactions.

via Camp For Alzheimer’s Patients Isn’t About Memories : NPR.

Flamingos raise money for autism and Alzheimer’s wandering program in Massachusetts

Flamingos will soon be flocking at locations around town as the Plymouth Networking Group and Sunrise Rotary Club of Plymouth team up to raise money to assist families who cannot afford to participate in a new search and rescue program for those at risk of wandering.

Nothing’s more frightening than the thought of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, autism or other condition wandering away, according to local nurse Connie Hinds, a member of both the networking and Rotary clubs.

The groups plan to flock a few select locations to help increase public awareness of the new SafetyNet tracking program soon to be offered locally. Hinds said both groups share an interest in protecting local seniors. They suspect that bright pink flamingos on laws will help bring attention to the search and rescue program.

“We want to increase public awareness of the program and have fun, too,” she said. “Flamingos can’t help but get a lot of attention.”

SafetyNet outfits seniors with a personal locator unit worn on the wrist or ankle. If a loved one goes missing, Hinds said, local law enforcement and public safety agencies trained and certified on search and rescue procedures will use SafetyNet search and rescue receivers to track the radio frequency from the locator.

via Flamingos for fun and funds – Plymouth, MA – Wicked Local Plymouth.