A recent wave of missing seniors has families across the nation on alert for elderly loved ones who are more mobile and active in warm weather and get separated, disoriented or in the worst case, lost and can’t find their way home. This is especially worrisome in the summer heat when seniors can become quickly dehydrated. The warm and bright summer days can be alluring and dangerous for the elderly and that’s why Senior Helpers, one of our nation’s largest in-home care companies for seniors, with caregivers in our area, has launched the “Senior Lost and Found Action Plan.” It’s a powerful checklist for families to follow if their elderly loved one gets separated or lost.
“Every day we care for thousands of elderly people and as the weather heats up we see a huge rise in the number of seniors getting separated, disoriented or even downright lost,” says Peter Ross, CEO and co-founder of Senior Helpers, an in-home senior care company with highly trained caregivers specializing in dementia and Alzheimer’s care. “That’s why we started the “Senior Lost and Found Action Plan” - to make sure seniors have a way to get out of a jam and to give families piece of mind. If families don’t live nearby, we suggest they hire a caregiver to implement this action plan to help watch over their elderly loved one.”
How Seniors Get Lost
Driving and forgetting directions or they can’t find their destination.
They make it to their destination but then can’t find their car in the parking lot.
Plan to meet at a familiar place and then can’t find it.
Go with family members and friends to a place and then get separated and/or lost.
Wander or drive away from home and get completely lost - this is especially a problem with the elderly with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s. Of the 5 million people who suffer from Alzheimer’s, 60 percent of them will wander and become lost at some point during the disease. And sadly, of those who are lost for more than 72 hours, 80 percent never make it home.
Senior Helpers “Senior Lost and Found Action Plan”
Give your senior a Smart phone and create an “If I’m Lost” folder on the home screen - in the folder, include the senior’s family and caregiver numbers, 911, a cab company phone number, and the senior’s home address.
Install a GPS tracking system on the senior’s cell phone - make sure they have one for their car and they know how to use it.
Make a plastic laminate card with all pertinent information – place this in your senior’s wallet and attach it to their car visor.
Have your senior wear an ID bracelet - they come in very fashionable designs.
For Seniors With Dementia and Alzheimer’s:
Consider disguising the doors in your home – painting or hanging posters on the inside of doors to disguise them as bookshelves or other furniture can often deter a senior from attempting to walk out.
Install door chimes on all entry doors – this alerts those at home whenever a door is opened. This comes in handy especially in a two level home. Security systems also offer this type of alarm.
Alert your local authorities of the RISK of wandering - many local police stations maintain an Alzheimer’s and dementia patient “registry.” Caregivers provide personal information that would be critical in a search and rescue effort, such as name, height, weight, etc…
Caregivers should keep a list of previous homes, occupations – this is helpful if authorities need to search for a senior. Elderly with Alzheimer’s tend to recall former homes, occupations and other milestones as though they are present day. Some seniors with dementia are wandering in attempt to “return to their roots.”
Utilize personal tracking devices - consider buying GPS devices that seniors can wear around their ankles, wrists or even in their shoes.
“A “Senior Lost and Found Action Plan” is especially critical for families with elderly loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s. That’s why caregivers trained in Alzheimer’s care can help families keep seniors active and engaged so they don’t wander in the first place,” says Ross. “This action plan is one part of our dementia and Alzheimer’s program called Senior Gems. Families shouldn’t have to worry about their senior every time they leave them. Our Gems caregivers help families cope with every stage of dementia and are a trained partner in the war against this deadly disease. This information is especially valuable this summer when hydration can also play a serious factor when seniors wander away in hot weather.”
Consider the problem with a recent wave of missing seniors…
San Francisco Bay area, CA (June) – A 69-year-old San Jose man, who suffered from dementia, wandered off and was later found dead just miles from his home in Alviso Marina National Refuge.
Fenton, MO (June) - Jefferson County deputies have located a 71-year-old woman, suffering from early stages of Alzheimer’s, who wandered from her home. She was found in a creek bed by a police helicopter.
Niles, OH (April) – An 84-year-old woman wandered away from her room at an assisted living facility and was found dead of apparent hypothermia.
Kingman, KS (February) - An 89-year-old Kansas man was found dead a day after he and his truck were reported missing. Family members say he usually stops by two of their homes each day, but he never showed up.
To learn more about how to care for your senior loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s through the Senior Helpers’ Senior Gems Program, please visit our website at www.seniorhelpers.com. There, you can also request a complimentary Senior Gems DVD.
Sources: Alzheimer’s Association, “Silver Alert Initiatives in the States,” Senior Parents Place, Mayo Clinic, Nana Technology
About Senior Gems
Senior Gems is a revolutionary program to help family members and professional caregivers properly care for their aging loved ones through each stage of dementia. Teepa Snow began developing her Gem Levels in 2006. In 2011, the Senior Gem program was created with her guidance and assistance. This program puts Senior Helpers at the forefront of individual and in-home dementia-specialized caregiving as they offer all of their in-home companions and caregivers the opportunity to become dementia care certified through the training program.
About Senior Helpers
Senior Helpers connects professional caregivers with seniors who wish to live at home as opposed to a nursing or assisted living facility. The company has nearly 300 franchises in 40 states and one Canadian province offering a wide range of personal and companion care services to assist seniors living independently with a strong focus on quality of life for the client and peace of mind for their families. Senior Helpers strives to be the leading companion and personal care provider that offers dependable, consistent and affordable home care. For more information, please click here.