Why you need a dementia safety plan

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

  1. Engage the person early on about strategies that will keep them safe in the community.
  2. Take a current picture of them and leave copies on the fridge, in your purse/wallet or on your cell phone.
  3. 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.
  4. Enroll in the Medical Alert® Safely Home® program.
  5. For safe walking: walk with a buddy or consider using locating technology with a GPS.
  6. Involve your neighbours: leave a picture and your contact info.
  7. Most importantly…If you know the person has gone missing or may be lost, don’t wait, immediately call 911.
  8. Review your safety plan as the dementia progresses and make changes as necessary.
  9. Contact your local Alzheimer Society for more information on living safely in the community.

Additional resources

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