When you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or other type of dementia, you will face many challenges. One of the most complex is having a loved one who is very active and prone to leaving the home. You want them to be active and have the ability to explore new things but once they are out of your sight, anxiety and fear become your unwanted companions.
In this article, When a Neighbor Wanders, I share how I was both touched and frightened when a neighbor I didn’t even know became lost in my own neighborhood. The fear I felt as I helped search for him can not even come close to what the family must have felt.
Recently, in my county, a husband took his wife with Alzheimer’s disease on a camping trip. I applaud him for getting her out of the house and doing something that enriched her life. Unfortunately, she became lost. Who knows why she ventured away – maybe it was curiosity of a plant she saw, a sound she heard, or maybe she was disoriented and wanted to return home.
Even though there was an extensive search for her that involved dozens of law enforcement personnel as well as volunteers, she wasn’t found. There was even speculation that she got into a car with someone and was hundreds of miles away.
Related TinT Article:
When A Neighbor With Dementia Wanders and Becomes Lost
Six weeks later, she was found deceased less than ½ a mile away from the campsite. I can’t even imagine the grief the family must have felt during this ordeal and the disappointment about how close she was the whole time.
This could have been prevented and I bet she could have been found alive in less than 30 minutes if the county would have had the right system in place to help families who are in this situation.
Everyone’s first thought is GPS. But that wouldn’t have worked in this particular situation due to the terrain. What we really need to talk about and get incorporated in our communities is RF technology.
Related TinT Resource:
Wandering and Alzheimer’s Disease: What is it and How Do I Cope?
To discuss why, I wrote this article, Shouldn’t We be Talking RF and not GPS technology, which you can read on Lori La Bey’s Alzheimer’s Speaks blog.
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Questions or thoughts? Let me know by commenting below:
Tony Fama says
HI Mike, Good article. As a former CEO of a GPS tracking watch designed for Cognitive impaired, I partially agree with your statements, however with Cell coverage across North America getting better all the time, even most parks, campsites, etc are getting some decent coverage. Our previous design and launch was the first out there with 3G/4G and BLE (Bluetooth low energy) incorporated. The new chip sets now have GPS, Cell, RF, WIfi and BLE, so there are many options in one solution and are cost effective. I spent alot of time talking to ALZ organizations, groups, advocates, as well as Autism related groups, since they both share this life threatening issue of wandering. Today there is no perfect solution that has it all at an affordable price. It requires a symbiotic effort from devices and software companies as well as physical infrastructures and government or private sectors to put in place the technology or networks that can properly cater to this. It is not as costly as everyone thinks. Saving even one life makes it all worth it.
Mike Good says
Thank you for your comment Tony, and I agree with everything. Although technology is getting better every day, we still aren’t quite to the point where there is one solution that is best in all situations. Even in my neighborhood, when I was part of the search for a lost loved one, I couldn’t get a cell signal, and we are not rural.