According to an Associated Press brief (November 29, 2013), a man with Alzheimer’s disease was shot and killed after wandering into a strange yard in the vicinity of Chickamauga, Georgia. The 72-year-old man was lost and confused and walked about three miles with his dogs in 20-degree weather during the middle of the night. He knocked on the door of a 34-year-old man who felt threatened and fired his handgun four times at the older gentleman before police arrived.
This tragedy might have been prevented if certain safety measures were in place in the home of the memory-loss patient. Wandering is a common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. More than 60% of memory loss patients wander at some point during the course of their illness.
Here are some ways to prevent wandering:
- If you care for your loved one at home, put the car keys in a secure place where only able, designated drivers have access to them.
- Hang bells on the doorknobs of exterior doors to alert you when a door is opened.
- Install new locks on the doors and windows that your loved one cannot open.
- Remove items from sight such as shoes, hats, gloves, umbrellas, etc. that are associated with going outside.
- Put a black rug in front of the exterior doors. To some people with dementia this looks like a hole, which they will not cross.
- Put a sign up on the inside of the exterior door that says, "Stop" or "Do Not Enter."
- Do not argue with your loved one if he or she insists on going outside. Instead, walk with him or her down the hall, or redirect their attention to an activity. Mentioning the word "icecream" often works like magic.
- Alert your neighbors to the situation at home, and make sure they phone you if they see your unaccompanied loved one outside.
- Many local police departments have a Project Lifesaver GPS bracelet or Safe Return® bracelet that can track an Alzheimer’s patient.
- The Alzheimer’s Association offers MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return, a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for individuals with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia who wander or have a medical emergency.
How it works:
- If an individual with Alzheimer's or a related dementia wanders and becomes lost, caregivers can call the 24-hour emergency response line (1.800.625.3780) to report it.
- A community support network will be activated, including local Alzheimer Association chapters and law enforcement agencies, to help reunite the person who wandered with the caregiver or a family member. With this service, critical medical information will be provided to emergency responders when needed.
- If a citizen or emergency personnel finds the person with dementia, they can call the toll-free number listed on the person's MedicAlert + Safe Return ID jewelry. MedicAlert + Safe Return will notify the listed contacts, making sure the person is returned home.
- Read more: http://www.alz.org/care/dementia-medic-alert-safe-return.asp#ixzz2mZCLSKlP