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ElderCare Solutions of MI

Archive for 'Alzheimer’s Association'

Have you ever walked out of a parking lot and had to think for a moment because you weren’t sure where you had parked your car?  Or searched the house because you couldn’t find your keys? I know most of us have.  And for a second we usually joke about losing our memories or getting older, but the reality is that most of us lead very busy lives, and we don’t always pay enough attention to the routine tasks we do each day, and occasionally have difficulty remembering where we left our keys (or car).  And that’s perfectly normal, especially as we age.  So how do you distinguish when your level of forgetting is no longer what would be considered normal?  And how difficult must it be to accept that?

Generally speaking, when memory loss or confusion is severe enough to interfere with someone’s ability to work and maintain a social life, it is no longer considered normal age related cognitive changes.  Instead that’s probably the time to consult a neurologist or geriatrician for a closer look.  But the fact that some of these things occasionally happen to all of us, ironically feeds denial, both on the part of the person living with dementia, and their family members.  Luckily, education and support are available, both one -on-one and support groups.  Support groups are offered through the Alzheimer’s Association, as well as through many memory care communities and adult day treatment programs.

In the meantime, if you would like to better understand how it feels to be someone living with dementia, pick up a copy of Still Alice, by Lisa Genova.  It is a really quick read that paints quite a vivid picture.

Pulling out my copy,

Lynn

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High summer temperatures and beautiful sunshine create an irresistible temptation to explore and enjoy what we have all waited so long for. However, it can also pose a significant increased risk for wandering, which is defined by the Alzheimer’s Association as “a behavior of people with dementia who move about in ways that may appear aimless, but which are often purposeful.” Up to 69 percent of those with dementia will wander.

            According to Lisa Gardener, Family Service Program Coordinator of the Alzheimer’s Association , Greater Michigan Chapter, while wandering can be dangerous and life threatening, wandering within safe conditions can actually be beneficial. Safe wandering can occur when precautions are taken and boundaries are set to ensure the safety of the individual with memory loss.  There are times when attempting to stop the wandering behavior creates more agitation or anxiety in the person with memory loss. It’s important to look at the benefits of safe wandering. Here are some benefits to safe wandering that are sometimes taken for granted:

  • Provides physical exercise
  • Promotes a sense of freedom and independence
  • Offers a social opportunity between the caregiver and person with memory loss
  • Promotes a sense of independence for the individual with dementia
  • Reduces boredom
  • Can be calming for a person with memory loss
  • May help assist in calming an individual with memory loss who is upset

 Here are some tips to aid an individual with memory loss with safe wandering:

  • Provide a safe environment for them to walk in (example- an enclosed courtyard or hallway)
  • Look into in home devices that can help alert the caregiver when the person with memory loss is trying to leave a safe environment
  • Offer to help them find what they are looking for
  • Offer to take them for a drive, or go be a companion for a walk,  if they insist on leaving the premises
  • Call another friend or family member to come over and assist if needed
  • Find a friend or family member to go visit during these times, which can help in redirecting the individual with memory loss
  • Once the individual with memory loss has been reassured, find a way to redirect their attention

Wandering becomes a problem when it puts the person with memory loss or other people in a life threatening situation, and it’s important to be prepared if the situation ever arises. The Alzheimer’s Association has a Medic Alert + Safe Return program which has a 98.9 percent success rate of finding a lost individual within the first 24 Hours. If you would like more information regarding the Medic Alert + Safe Return/ Comfort Zone program, call their 24 Hour Harry L. Nelson Helpline at 1-800-272-3900, or visit www.alz.org. Alternatively, several personal emergency response systems have a GPS feature which can be helpful locating someone who is wandering.  Whichever option you choose, keeping your loved one safe is what matters.

Going for a walk,

Lynn

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ElderCare Solutions of Michigan is a division of Jewish Family Service of Metropolitan Detroit, a non-sectarian not-for-profit organization that has served the metro Detroit area for more than 80 years.