World Alzheimer’s Day

Today’s is World Alzheimer’s Day, a day on which Alzheimer’s organizations around the world concentrate their efforts on raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Every 68 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s disease. At current rates, experts believe the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s will quadruple to as many as 16 million by the year 2050.

One of the major concerns associated with Alzheimer’s is the fact that up to 60 percent of all patients with the disease will wander (source: Alzheimer’s Association).  Just this Wednesday, a 78-year-old Braintree man who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s wandered from his home.  Fortunately, he was located more than a mile away in front of a residential home.  Deputies and officers with the Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office and Braintree Police Department, who were equipped with SafetyNet tracking equipment, were able to find him less than 20 minutes after they began their search.

At SafetyNet, we recommend that caregivers consider doing any or all of the following to best protect their loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s:

  1. Advise local first responders:  Fill out a 9-1-1 disability indicator form and submit it to your local law enforcement agency. The information provided on the form enables a special code to appear on the 9-1-1 dispatcher’s screen, alerting law enforcement that a person residing at that address may require special assistance during an emergency. In addition to this form, complete a more detailed handout with information about your loved one that you can provide to first responders. Keep copies of your handout in printed and electronic formats so you can readily provide it to search and rescue personnel in the event of an incident.
  2. Inform your neighbors:  Give them a handout with a picture of your loved one, physical characteristics and emergency contact information. You may also want to describe your loved one’s fears and effective ways to approach, communicate with and calm your loved one. Ask them to contact you immediately if they see your loved one outside your home or property.
  3. Secure your home:  Use deadbolt locks, keep doors and windows locked and install an alarm system/alert chimes on doors. Consider installing a fence around your property. Motion detectors may also be appropriate.
  4. Eliminate triggers for wandering:  If your loved one has a fixation on certain sounds or objects that draw him to investigate and wander, you may be able to eliminate these distractions.
  5. Get an ID necklace/bracelet and consider a personal tracking device:  List your emergency contact information on personal IDs and on tags for shoes, clothes and purses/bags. Also, a Radio Frequency (RF) device like SafetyNet is ideal for people at risk of wandering, because it has strong signals that can penetrate any physical obstruction. With an RF device, your loved one can be found in places that a GPS or cellular product cannot reach, such as in a wooded area, mall or parking garage.