A national company with a local branch is launching a free networking system to help families deal with wandering family members suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Home Instead Senior Care has launched the Missing Senior Network in collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Association. The free program provides tips and resources to help families better prepare for when a loved one living with Alzheimer’s wanders. The program also helps families create a network of friends and neighbors to alert via text or email in the event their loved one wanders.
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. The program is now available in Stanislaus County.
“These frightening occurrences lead families to call our office and ask for help,” said David Phillips, franchise owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Modesto. “This resource was created to help Modesto 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 Wandering 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:
1. 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.
2. Overstimulation. Individuals living with dementia can become easily upset in noisy or crowded environments, triggering them to look for an escape from the chaos.
3. Fatigue, especially during late afternoons and evenings. Individuals living with dementia may become tired, causing restless pacing and, eventually, wandering.
4. 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.
5. 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 Phillips. “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.”