One of the worst scenarios for families caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease is a loved one wandering or getting lost. It causes immediate panic and concern, and unfortunately happens all too often. In fact, nearly 50 percent of some of these family members have experienced a loved one with Alzheimer’s wandering or getting lost[i], according to a new survey conducted by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® network. Of those, nearly one in five called the police for assistance. To help families keep their loved ones safe, the Home Instead Senior Care network has launched a free tool, the Missing Senior NetworkSM, now available in the Houston area.
Found at www.MissingSeniorNetwork.com, the platform enables family caregivers to alert a network of friends, family and businesses to be on the lookout for a missing senior. The service provides a way to alert the network of a missing senior via text or email. Families can also choose to post an alert to the Home Instead Remember for Alzheimer’s Facebook page, connected to 270,000 followers.
“These frightening occurrences lead families to call our office and ask for help,” said Cara Delgado, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving North and Northwest Houston. “This resource was created to help Houston area families understand the risk of wandering and have a tool that empowers them to quickly take action if a loved one living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia wanders.”
The Missing Senior Network is part of Home Instead Senior Care network’s new Prevent WanderingSM program, which includes resources such as insight into what may trigger wandering events, steps families can take to help keep their loved ones safe, and tips on what to do if a wandering event occurs.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, anyone living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia is at risk of wandering.
“Wandering can happen at any time, and not just on foot ─ someone in a car or even a wheelchair could wander,” said Monica Moreno, director of Early Stage Initiatives for the Alzheimer’s Association. “A person may want to go back to a former job he or she had, even though that job may no longer exist. Or, someone may have a personal need that must be met. There’s always a purpose and intent. It’s just a matter of identifying the triggers.”
Family caregivers should be aware of the following common triggers that may cause someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia to wander:
- Delusions or hallucinations. Those living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia may misinterpret sights or sounds, causing them to feel fearful and wander to escape their environment.
- Overstimulation. Individuals living with dementia can become easily upset in noisy or crowded environments, triggering them to look for an escape from the chaos.
- Fatigue, especially during late afternoons and evenings. Individuals living with dementia may become tired, causing restless pacing and, eventually, wandering.
- Disorientation to place and time. Individuals may not recognize they are home and seek to return to a familiar place, such as a former workplace.
- Change in routine. Individuals living with dementia may become confused following a change of routine, wandering in an effort to return to a familiar place.
“We understand the topic of wandering is something many families coping with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia may avoid discussing,” said Greg Gomez-Mira, owner of the Home Instead office serving Fort Bend, Harris and Brazoria Counties. “It’s important for families to understand the potential triggers for wandering and have a plan in place to help keep their loved ones safe.”
For additional tips and program resources, visit www.PreventWandering.com, or contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office serving the Houston area to learn how family caregivers can help prevent and respond to wandering. You can find an office near you by visiting www.homeinstead.com/texas.
To access the Missing Senior Network, visit www.MissingSeniorNetwork.com.
ABOUT HOME INSTEAD SENIOR CARE
Founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, by Lori and Paul Hogan, the Home Instead Senior Care network provides personalized care, support and education to help enhance the lives of aging adults and their families. Today this network is the world’s leading provider of in-home care services for seniors, with more than 1,000 independently owned and operated franchises that are estimated to annually provide more than 50 million hours of care throughout the United States and 12 other countries. Local Home Instead Senior Care offices employ approximately 65,000 CAREGiversSM worldwide who provide basic support services that enable seniors to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. The Home Instead Senior Care network strives to partner with each client and his or her family members to help meet that individual’s needs. Services span the care continuum from providing companionship and personal care to specialized Alzheimer’s care and hospice support. Also available are family caregiver education and support resources. At Home Instead Senior Care, it’s relationship before task, while striving to provide superior quality service.
Signs Someone with Alzheimer’s Might Wander
Those living with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, could be at risk of wandering, which is why it’s important to watch for these common signs.
- The disease itself. Anyone with dementia is at risk of wandering. This behavior can affect individuals in all stages as long as that person is mobile.
- Trouble navigating familiar places. A desire to get to a certain place could prompt individuals with Alzheimer’s to go in search of where they feel they need or want to be.
- Talk about fulfilling nonexistent obligations. If Dad keeps discussing going back to work, or Mom is talking about taking the baby – who is now an adult – to the doctor, a loved one could be at risk of wandering.
- Agitation during the late afternoon or early evening. Sometimes referred to as “Sundowning,” individuals with Alzheimer’s or other dementias often become agitated and restless, even pacing, as fatigue sets in and are at greater risk of wandering.
- Wanting to go home when they’re already there. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease often go looking for home when they are already there.
- Unmet needs. If a loved one wants to go to the bathroom, but can’t find where it is, that individual is at greater risk of wandering.
i] During March-April 2016, Home Instead, Inc., surveyed 1,110 family caregivers across North America through an online survey. Of the respondents, 86 percent were in the U.S., while 11 percent were in Canada.