BScN, RN, GNC(C) President,
Eldercare Home Health Inc.

Woman freezes to death in city’s northeast end…

We were contacted today by a reporter at Thedailyplanet.com to provide advice to the public on how to avoid a tragedy like this one; a 66year old woman, suffering from dementia, wandered out of her home at 2am and was found dead of hypothermia at 5am in a neighboring driveway.

Here are some of the ideas we shared:

*Register your loved one with the Alzheimer Society and Police through the Wandering Registry. This gives the Police a headstart should they be called upon to help find a missing person with dementia. The Registry also provides the potential wanderer with a medical alert bracelet which will help neighbors and others realize that there is a medical issue and that the confused person that they have encountered may be in need of immediate assistance.

*Alert your neighbors to the possibility that your relative may wander from your home. People are sometimes embarrassed to talk to others about dementia. Most people will gladly help out.

*Try the following strategies to prevent the confused person from exiting the house in the middle of the night: Use a motion detector device that alerts others in the house when the confused person has crossed the threshold of their bedroom; place windchimes on the inside of the door, alerting other residents of the home that the family member is trying to leave the home; place bright yellow hazard tape across the door threshold – this will discourage some people from attempting to exit.

*Remember that being a primary caregiver to a person suffering from dementia is an exhausting job. Sometimes the primary caregiver needs time off. Consider hiring a caregiver in order to give that person a break. Alternatively, there are respite settings available where the person with dementia can stay for a period of time, allowing the primary caregiver a much needed break and a chance also to catch up on their sleep.

*Try organizing a person with dementia’s day to include physical exercise, fresh air and stimulating activities so that they will be tired by end of day and more likely to require a night’s rest – and less likely to awaken to wander.
There is no one solution that works for everyone. These suggestions are sample interventions from our own experiences for those who have the primary care responsibility for someone with Alzheimer’s or any type of dementia.

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