Oh my God, my Mom is missing!
During a recent visit to see my Mom, I woke up in the middle of the night and realized Mom was not in her bed. When I looked in her apartment and she was not there, a sick feeling settled in my stomach. I then went outside and saw her in her nightgown in the backyard.
“Mom,” I called out to her,”WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”
She was startled by my voice and appeared to be puzzled and somewhat embarrassed.
She replied:.”I saw people in the backyard and came out to look”.
We returned inside, I made her a cup of tea and we talked. She was confused and unsure as to why she had gone outside. The more we talked, it became evident that she had mixed up a bad dream with reality. I knew it was time to seriously start taking safety precautions and even consider getting some kind of a locating device.
If you are caring for a person with dementia, it’s important to discuss safety and plan ahead.
How to make a safety plan for someone with dementia
- Engage the person early on about strategies that will keep them safe in the community.
- Take a current picture of them and leave copies on the fridge, in your purse/wallet or on your cell phone.
- Write a list of places the person may go to if lost: a favourite coffee shop or store, mailbox, an old home address, former workplaces.
- Enroll in the Medical Alert® Safely Home® program.
- For safe walking: walk with a buddy or consider using locating technology with a GPS.
- Involve your neighbours: leave a picture and your contact info.
- Most importantly…If you know the person has gone missing or may be lost, don’t wait, immediately call 911.
- Review your safety plan as the dementia progresses and make changes as necessary.
- Contact your local Alzheimer Society for more information on living safely in the community.
- Finding Your Way™ offers a printable identification kit safety sheets for caregivers.
- Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program (MAREP) By Us for Us Guides provides tips to start the conversation with the person with dementia and offers printable emergency contact cards
- MedicAlert® Safely Home® provides registration forms bracelet options and outlines benefits for members.
- Working on a safety plan will be time well spent! What can you do today to get started with this plan?