Caregiving Tips & News

“Every successful boxer knows the importance of having quality trainers work their corner. The great Muhammad Ali was guided by legendary trainers, Angelo Dundee and Bundini Brown. As a former boxer, battling the progressive stages of dementia, I am very grateful to have the GPS SmartSole working my corner, ensuring me a better quality of life while maintaining my dignity and affording my family the peace of mind that my getting lost is a worry of the past.”

Ray Ciancaglini  –  former professional boxer and award-winning concussion awareness activist. Watch the Ciancaglini Family’s Testimonial Video.


2nd impact

Facts & Tips You Should Know About Alzheimer's and Dementia

Science Daily- Projected doubling of Americans living with dementia

Women are at much greater risk and shoulder the majority of costs

October 29, 2019
Milken Institute
The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias will double to nearly 13 million over the next 20 years, according to the new report.

The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias will double to nearly 13 million over the next 20 years, according to the new Milken Institute report “Reducing the Cost and Risk of Dementia: Recommendations to Improve Brain Health and Decrease Disparities.”

Milken Institute research estimates that by 2020, roughly 4.7 million women in the US will have dementia, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all people living with the condition.

The number of both women and men living with dementia is projected to nearly double by 2040, with the number of women projected to rise to 8.5 million, and the number of men expected to reach 4.5 million (up from 2.6 million in 2020), according to the report, which was released at the 2019 Milken Institute Future of Health Summit in Washington, D.C.

Over the next 20 years, the economic burden of dementia will exceed $2 trillion, with women shouldering more than 80 percent of the cumulative costs.

“Longer lifespans are perhaps one of the greatest success stories of our modern public health system,” explains Nora Super, lead author of the report and senior director of the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging. “But along with this success comes one of our greatest challenges. Our risk of developing dementia doubles every five years after we turn 65; by age 85, nearly one in three of us will have the disease.”

“With no cure in sight, we must double down on efforts to reduce the cost and risk of dementia,” she added. “Emerging evidence shows that despite family history and personal genetics, lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, and better sleep can improve health at all ages.”

In collaboration with partners such as UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, AARP and Bank of America, Super and her co-authors, Rajiv Ahuja and Kevin Proff, have developed detailed recommendations and goals for policymakers, businesses, and communities to improve brain health, reduce disparities, and ultimately change the trajectory of this devastating disease.

      1) Promote strategies to maintain and improve brain health for all ages, genders, and across diverse populations

2) Increase access to cognitive testing and early diagnosis

3) Increase opportunities for diverse participation in research and prioritize funding to address health disparities

4) Build a dementia-capable workforce across the care continuum

5) Establish services and policies that promote supportive communities and workplaces for people with dementia and their caregivers

“As this important new report shows, dementia is one of the greatest public health challenges of our time,” said Sarah Lenz Lock, SVP, Policy & Brain Health at AARP. “It also demonstrates that we have the power to create change, whether by helping consumers maintain and improve their brain health, advancing research on the causes and treatment of dementia, or supporting caregivers who bear so much of the burden of this disease. We at AARP look forward to working with the Milken Institute and other key partners to achieve these goals.”

“Brain health broadens the fight against Alzheimer’s to include everyone and is the key to defeating stigma, increasing early detection, speeding up research — and ending this disease,” said Jill Lesser, a founding board member of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s. “This new look by the Milken Institute offers important recommendations and actions to help move us to an optimal system of brain health care in this country.”

Among the breakthrough findings, new data have “unveiled key discoveries about the differences between men’s and women’s brains, and how they age. Moreover, women typically take on greater caregiver responsibilities than men. Women caregivers are more likely to be impacted financially and leave their jobs or miss work to care for a family member. And research demonstrates that spousal caregivers may be at a higher risk of cognitive impairment or dementia than non-caregivers.”

“With this research, the Milken Institute has taken an important step to better understand the impacts of dementia on diverse populations,” said Lorna Sabbia, Head of Retirement and Personal Wealth Solutions, Bank of America. “This study, together with our own research on life stages, women, health and wellness, plays a critically important role in our efforts to educate and provide guidance to individuals and families throughout their financial lives.”

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Materials provided by Milken InstituteNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

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Milken Institute. “Projected doubling of Americans living with dementia: Women are at much greater risk and shoulder the majority of costs.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 October 2019. <>. – Alzheimer’s: The Tale of Two Parents

Part 1 of a 3-part series. In this series, you’ll learn about the author’s experience as part of a local Alzheimer’s research study.

By Karen Crowson

This year I made a lifelong commitment. I agreed to participate in a longitudinal study of Alzheimer’s disease administered by UCSD’s Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

Here’s my ‘why’. Both of my parents were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Were they destined to have this disease? I’m not sure, but this intense path we’ve been traveling together in the past decade has me curious to learn more.

Their journey with Alzheimer’s began long ago, although they didn’t know it at the time. Both were the youngest in their respective homes, with strong predictors of the disease from the females in their families. My dad’s mother and sister had memory issues, as did my mom’s three sisters and her mother. Not all these women had clinical diagnoses for their condition, but I am convinced they all suffered from the same thing. The men from these two families died from other causes, much earlier than the women so we aren’t sure if they also suffered from the disease.

When I was in high school, one of my grandmothers died at 80 from cancer. She was the first person I knew who had consistent memory problems. At the time, our family simply referred to it as senility. My dad’s mother also had cognitive concerns. Hers were more pronounced, and since she lived to be 94, I saw her more often over the years. She repeated herself incessantly and had concerning wandering bouts where Dad would get a call from some kind stranger who’d found her. At least she could remember her unique last name – helpful in delivering her back to Dad. In her case as well, my parents and their siblings just shrugged it off as age-related memory loss.

Mom was the youngest in her family and lived about two hours away from her siblings. At the same time as her retirement, her sisters were suffering from the effects of their Alzheimer’s, so she occasionally became a caregiver for each of them, staying two-three weeks at a time. She told us of the visits, but rarely discussed the details. We heard about my aunts’ outbursts, stubbornness, and ‘crazy’ talk. Mom seemed angry and resentful (which I totally understand), but even more than her compassion, I noticed the sense of duty with which she responded. If my parents wondered if they’d be affected by the disease someday, they never mentioned it. All went silent on the Alzheimer’s front…that was until my Dad’s behavior started to change.

Since I only saw my parents every two-three months during their early retirement years, I didn’t really notice any significant changes in my father. But looking back at it now, I see it quite differently. Chalking some of it off to less structure in day-to-day life, the personalities of my parents shifted, albeit subtlety. Dad took an interest in all things war-related, having landed in Normandy during World War II at the innocent age of 19. He started sorting through old photographs, framing some. He brought out his war medals and paraphernalia decorating the upstairs bedroom in a patriotic color scheme with flags, memorabilia and what almost amounted to a shrine for his service time. During this time frame, my brother accompanied our father to the 50th Anniversary of D-Day in 1994, an event he believes may have triggered Dad’s repeated lapses into his war memories.

My conversations with Mom were lengthy and usually consisted of complaints about Dad. His speech, on the other hand, was disjointed. With the stories we’d heard for a lifetime, he seemed to mix up people, places, and things, emphasizing seemingly unrelated details. During this time, Mom became agitated and very unhappy, expressing her desire to move somewhere else. In retrospect, I don’t know if it was strictly for the reasons, she claimed…feeling that the house was too big, the winters too harsh, and feeling less able to walk around the lake. While those were all true, I eventually gathered these complaints were stemming from her husband’s behavioral changes, and she was just scared.

As my folks moved closer to my brother and I, we were able to schedule more frequent visits. However, evident tension now existed between them. Dad’s personality had shifted, and consequently, so had Mom’s. Occasionally, I’d get secret phone calls from her, telling me about some incident with Dad. Initially, they were insignificant complaints. But as time went on, minor irritations escalated into even more worrisome situations involving driving, money, and encounters involving others. The result was Dad’s official diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Mom’s diagnosis followed a few years later.

I’m surprised that my parents had taken little interest in learning more about the disease that had affected so many in my family. Once I was in the throes of the unpredictable and often painful results of Alzheimer’s with both parents at once, I was committed to learning as much as I could in order to better help them, and cope with my part in it all.  There is such a helpless, hopeless feeling for some on this journey and I am on a mission to learn, educate, and communicate with my sons and others should this become a factor in another family member’s life.

That mission started with the step of seeking out a support group in order to improve my understanding of the disease, my effectiveness in communication with my parents, and my interaction with other caregivers who knew how I felt. Finding an Alzheimer’s Support Group in Rancho Bernardo, led me to Alzheimer’s San Diego – and, eventually, to enrolling in UCSD’s clinical trial. Now, once a year, for the rest of my life, my memory and cognition skills will be tested. A spinal tap will draw precious samples of cerebrospinal fluid. And, hopefully, I will have contributed in finding a cure.

Article Here:

Alzheimer’s San Diego is here for you if you want to learn more about this topic, and to support anyone impacted by dementia. Get connected by calling 858.492.4400 or emailing To see our upcoming classes and workshops, click here.

These shoes help track people with dementia when they wander-

People with dementia are sometimes prone to hiding when they feel lost or scared

Restlessness and memory loss are a dangerous combination for people with dementia: They’re likely to leave familiar settings for situations they aren’t equipped to handle alone.

Dementia patients who might otherwise be able to live at home are often placed in assisted living facilities because their tendency to wander puts themselves or others in harm’s way.

Wandering seniors make the news every day. In fact, 35 states have implemented Silver Alert systems focused on notifying law enforcement about missing seniors with dementia and other individuals with cognitive impairments.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, six in 10 people with dementia will wander.

One solution to the problem may be right underfoot.

SmartSoles are insoles that are easily adapted to most types of shoe. Equipped with a GPS and cell capabilities, they send a message to a caregiver’s phone as soon as the person with dementia walks beyond a designated area, such as the confines of a home and backyard area.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, six in 10 people with dementia will wander. One in four hospital beds are occupied by dementia patients, usually because they’ve fallen or become dehydrated after a long wander.

People with dementia are sometimes prone to hiding when they feel lost or scared, risking their health and alarming their caregivers.

Manufactured by Los Angeles-based GTX Corp., SmartSoles can help prevent these hospital visits while ensuring loved ones with dementia are always accounted for.

SmartSoles are available around the world, and are one of a host of trackers designed to help keep people with dementia from wandering into harm’s way.

See full article at:

The Earliest Signs of Alzheimer’s Everyone Over 50 Should Know – MSN Best Life

Tehrene Firman       6/17/2019     lifestyle  powered by Microsoft News


Read Full Article Here:

Photo by BBH Singapore on Unsplash

Alzheimer’s Disease Facts Your Doctor Does Not Tell You- MSN Medical Daily

Darwin Malicdem, June 26, 2019 Medical Daily

As we get older, the fear that we may eventually develop the disease also emerges.

Losing the ability to remember things is a major concern for almost every one reaching mid-life. Who would want to forget the first time you went outside the country? Or your first child’s birth? Your wedding day? And other happy moments with your family and friends?

As people get older and due to some factors in the environment, the risk of having Alzheimer’s disease would become higher. It could eventually steal most of your happy memories and adventures.

But what if you already have it? Or you have been showing initial signs of its development? Is it really frightening to live with Alzheimer’s? “Newly diagnosed adults and their family members are deeply concerned about how to navigate this uncertain future,” Laura Rice-Oeschger, who runs a caregiver wellness program for the University of Michigan’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center, told Women’s Health.

“They’re overwhelmed with ideas and fears, which often stem from a previous personal experience with Alzheimer’s or what they learn from the media,” she added.

Despite the negative effects of the condition, there are a number of ways for patients and their loved ones to maintain a meaningful life. Check out some interesting facts about Alzheimer’s disease that many doctors do not tell their patients about.

1. Spend More Time Having Fun

Following Alzheimer’s diagnosis, people immidiately lose hope and look at life differently. However, David Merrill, a neurologist and geriatric psychiatrist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, said the condition will take 15 to 20 years before fully affecting the brain.

It means Alzheimer’s disease symptoms do not appear overnight, giving you more years to be active and to enjoy life.

“There is no reason to be hopeless about an Alzheimer’s diagnosis,” Merrill said. “It’s never too late to start changing your lifestyle to slow down the progress of the disease.”

2. Many Alzheimer’s Patients Remain Independent

People with the disease can still do things for themselves. Simply focus on your strengths and the activities that you enjoy doing. Maintain a balance between activities that may no longer be convenient and those that provide benefits.

3. Change Your Diet and Lifestyle

As Alzheimer’s develops gradually, you can do something to delay the process. Simple changes to the food you eat and your daily activities can help. Try aerobic exercise, get enough sleep and follow a good diet to keep the brain healthy.

4. Socialize Could be a Form of  Treatment

Regular social interaction can help preserve mental health. Socialization plays a key role after the diagnosis. Having lunch with friends, engaging in online chats and joining local clubs could help keep people connected and the brain active.

“When it comes to the brain, I tell patients to ‘use it or lose it,’” Henry Paulson, a neurologist and director of the University of Michigan’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center, said. “People are social animals and socialization drives us. Do a lot of whatever mentally stimulates you.”

5. Join Support Programs

Talking to fellow patients could help navigate the challenges of life with Alzheimer’s disease. It also provides benefits to the caregiver. Rice-Oeschger said those who take care of the patients should also join a wellness program to maintain well-being.

6. Caregiving Helps

Caregiving helps patients significantly. But the work itself also helps those providing it.

A 2017 national poll by the University of Michigan showed that 78 percent of caregivers surveyed said their efforts are stressful, but the majority also found the responsibility as a rewarding experience.

7. Interactions May Become Different So be Ready

The changes in the personality and memory could make things difficult both for the patient and the caregiver. One caregiver, named Kelly, from Cypress, Texas, shared her experience in taking care of her mother with mid- to late-stage Alzheimer’s.

“Your sweet, innocent [mother] who does not swear will curse like a sailor and call you names,” she said. “Try to remember it is not her doing these things… it’s this disease.”

Accept that the condition is causing changes that your loved one never dreamed of having. Adjust and try to find things that would make them feel comfortable.

Article found here:

Photo by Tiago Muraro on Unsplash

GTX SmartSole Shown at Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Center Town Square

GTX’s SmartSole were proudly displayed this past Saturday at the Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Center Town Square®, the nation’s first immersive reminiscence therapy day center for people with dementia. The event gathered an array of San Diego innovators in the dementia care space and was open to both industry professionals and family caregivers.

This was the first event of its kind held at the new center that opened this past August. Mindy Baker, PhD, Director of Education at the Glenner Centers, the organization that founded the innovative Town Square®, spoke about the benefits of reminiscence therapy for people with dementia. The entirety of Town Square® is designed to replicate a 1950s small town in an effort to facilitate reminiscence.

“The SmartSole is a GPS wearable tracking technology that helps to reduce the incidence of loved ones with dementia becoming lost due to dangerous wandering,” stated Lisa D. Tyburski, Chief Marketing Officer of George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Centers, Inc.® | Town Square®

IMG_3512 IMG_3511 IMG_3510

Healthy Aging Through Active Living Feel Great in Your Golden Years

Image via Pexels

By: Richard Wright

Your golden years can be the best ones of your life. Of course, the enjoyment you feel in retirement can be diminished if you’re dealing with health complications. But by being proactive and caring for yourself, you can prevent serious issues and get the most out of this wonderful time in your life.

Exercise and Physical Activity

The human body, young and old, needs exercise to operate at its fullest potential. When you exercise in your senior years, daily workouts help regulate mood and can even prevent the onset of dementia symptoms. Adding strength exercises reduces muscle mass loss due to aging, and supports healthy bones and joints. Balance exercises help seniors stay on their own two feet and prevent falls that can result in serious injury.

Doctors recommend older adults exercise 150 minutes per week — that’s 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week. However, just 10 minutes of moderate exercise has a therapeutic effect on seniors, so seniors who wish to break down workouts into three 10-minute workouts per day are certainly free to do so.

Older adults should vary their workouts and engage in different types of exercise:

  • Endurance – walking, swimming, jogging, dancing, playing tennis
  • Strength – lifting free weights, pulling resistance bands, using strength-training equipment
  • Balance – back and side leg raises, toe stands, heel-to-toe walking, stork pose
  • Flexibility – daily stretches including shoulder, upper arm, calf, and thigh

Regular Sleep

Just as important as exercising is balancing your physical activity with a full night of sleep. Regardless of your age, sleep is an essential tool in preventing conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, but since seniors are even more prone to these illnesses, adequate rest is something all people in their golden years should strive for.

If you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep on a regular basis, consult your doctor to rule out a serious sleep disorder like insomnia. If your physician gives you the all clear, take a look around your bedroom to see if you can identify a culprit. If your mattress is a little worse for wear — especially if you have had it for seven years or longer — you owe it to your overall wellness to purchase a new one. Be sure to look for one that is both comfortable and supportive of your spine; a mattress that’s too soft or too stiff won’t keep your spine in alignment as you catch Zs, adding unnecessary pressure to your joints night after night.

Also use a critical eye to examine your sleep environment. Is there a streetlight shining through the windows? Hang some blackout shades. Are your walls paper thin and your neighbors noisy? Pop in some earplugs or invest in a white noise machine. Do you wake up in the middle of the night feeling overheated? Set your thermostat a bit lower — between 65 and 69 degrees is optimal for sleep.

Mental Stimulation for Seniors

Exercising the mind in your senior years is just as important as exercising the body. Mental stimulation challenges the brain so you stay sharp, fit, and witty for years to come. Certain exercises can help improve memory and reduce the symptoms of mild cognitive impairment that are common with aging. Seniors can exercise the mind through various means, including activities they already enjoy, such as playing music or reading. Additionally, brain games like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, strategy games, and more are great for cognitive improvement. Basically, anything that gets the mind working and challenges the person in some way can be considered mentally stimulating, so the options are limitless.

The Importance of Socialization for Seniors

As populations grow older and people become more isolated, senior loneliness has become a huge problem. Without enough socialization, older adults are more likely to develop both mental and physical health problems. Meanwhile, people with regular social interaction tend to have a higher level of life satisfaction at their time of death.

Seniors who want to be more social can look into local senior centers for support. These institutions often provide transportation and activities for older adults while facilitating socialization and community support. Adults can also check out their local church or house of worship for options. Senior citizens who are still active and mobile can look into spending some free time giving back to their community through volunteering, or even pick up a part-time job as a way to learn new things, meet new people, and make a little money on the side.


Helping People with Anxiety Who Wander

By Jane Weyman

Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults and causing a myriad of symptoms, which can include wandering. While healthy adults can find taking a walk outdoors to be an effective way to calm down, wandering can be less than ideal when children, or elderly persons with dementia, are battling panic. The GPS technology in SmartSole (conveniently inserted into their shoes) is an excellent way for parents, guardians and carers to know where their loved ones are at all moments. In this post, we highlight other ways to help those with a tendency to wander when panic sets in.

Wandering is a Typical Trait in Anxiety

Anxiety occurs when the ‘fight or flight response’ sets in persistently, despite there being no real danger around us. That is, facing some degree of daily anxiety is acceptable; being in a chronically anxious state, on the other hand, indicates an underlying problem. When we are anxious, our breathing rate increases (i.e. we can flood our bloodstream with too much oxygen), as does our heart rate. Our muscles tense up, which can lead to pain and spasms. For some, the tendency can be to run away from a perceived fear. As noted by author of The Panic Workbook, David Carbonell, however, we do ourselves greater harm when we flee or when we otherwise try not to be anxious: “It’s the excessive self-protection which forms the most dysfunctional parts of the problem.”

How to Tackle Wandering

The first step to take when we have a loved one who wanders because of anxiety, is to ensure their safety. This can be achieved through GPS tracking, but also by avoiding wandering in the first place, through safe home interiors and exteriors. A child who is the midst of a panic attack, for instance, might panic and, attempting to flee, jump outside a high window or balcony. It is important to ensure upper windows are secure to reduce the risk of this kind of incident.

Explaining the Nature of Anxiety

Children can be taught, as David Carbonell notes, to see anxiety as the ‘trick’ it really is. That is, it can ‘fool’ them into believing they are in an actual situation of danger, when they are not. They should also understand the way their body responds to perceived threat. Taking in too many breaths can lead to an overload of oxygen; our muscles can contract, and we can, ironically, feel that we are not inhaling enough oxygen (this occurs during hyperventilation). Dizziness, pain, and faintness are also common symptoms.

A Powerful Ally: Breathing

If you don’t already have one, download a pranayamic (or controlled) breathing app, which will teach kids and older adults a valuable technique: that of controlled breathing. These apps contain free exercises which take as little as five minutes to complete. Ask your loved ones to notice the almost immediate effects that breathing abdominally produces, including the almost instantaneous decrease in their heart rate.

Wandering is a common way to deal with anxiety, but also the exact opposite of what one needs to defeat it. Facing anxiety by ‘riding the wave’, breathing abdominally, and knowing that ‘this too shall pass’ will ensure that anxiety is reduced to the ‘trick’ that it actually is.

Photo by Rene Böhmer on Unsplash

5 Travel Tips for Seniors on the Go

By: Richard Wright

Just because you’re in your golden years doesn’t mean you have to stay rooted to one spot. Retirement offers wonderful opportunities for seniors from all walks of life to get out there and experience the world. Here are five useful tips to help you pack your bags, book your flight, and discover something new.


  1. To Drive or To Fly?

After coming up with your dream destination, you’re probably asking yourself, “How do I get there?” A quick internet search will probably list out a few options on how to get from point A to point B, along with the time to get there and the number of miles covered. And you may wonder whether driving or flying is the best option. Aging doesn’t compromise your ability to drive, but trips over 600 miles can be exhausting for even young drivers. Keep in mind your limitations when deciding whether to drive, and try not to push yourself too hard on the road.


  1. If You Plan on Driving:

If you’re settled on driving for an extended period, you’ll want to schedule breaks for resting in addition to your breaks for gas and food. Sitting down at the wheel for more than three hours at a time can be overly taxing on your body, so be sure to stop to stretch and walk around. For trips exceeding 600 miles, your best bet will be to drive with one or two other people who can help share the driving time, allowing for everyone to have periods of rest while on the road.


Be sure to utilize a GPS system, such as SmartSole. Gone are the days of having to rely on road atlases. A GPS system will ensure you’re never in danger of getting lost.


  1. If You Plan on Flying:

When your desired destination means you need to fly, there are tons of options online to find the best flight deals. Pick one that fits your budget and ideal travel times. Some flights may depart very early or late in the day, and you’ll want to arrive at the airport two hours before departure to give yourself enough time to check-in, find your terminal, and make it through TSA screening. Make a game plan for when to arrive at the airport and how you’ll get around.  Some airports are massive, and getting around can be challenging. If you need a walker to get around, or feel like you might need some assistance, call ahead and reserve a terminal shuttle or motorized scooter to help you get you to your gate in time.


  1. What to Pack

Whether you’re driving or flying, you’ll want to be smart about your packing. Make sure to keep a small piece of luggage with all of your medications readily at hand. If you’re flying, this would count as your carry-on luggage to keep with you in the cabin. You will also want to keep important health papers, identification, sunglasses and any other necessities in your carry-on. When packing your clothes, remember you’ll want to wear your comfiest clothing for the trip itself. Dress in layers in case you feel too hot or too cold, and wear comfortable slip-on shoes to speed you through airport security.


  1. Before You Leave

The last thing anyone wants when traveling is to worry about their home. Before you leave, keep in mind the things you need to do to secure your home. First, find someone to check on the house when you’re away. They can pick up mail and check on any pets you might have. Another option is to set up a home monitoring system. There are plenty of inexpensive solutions that allow you to monitor your home from anywhere on your phone or tablet. Before heading out the door, you’ll also want to check that all your appliances are unplugged, your water heater is turned off, and your HVAC system at a conservative setting.


Traveling is often the ultimate dream once you retire and have the extra time. Keep your adventures running smooth with these helpful tips and you’re sure to have the time of your life. Bon voyage!

Photo by Esther Wiegardt on Unsplash

Helping an Elderly Loved One Who Wanders

By: Jane Weyman

Memory loss is the most oft cited symptom of dementia, but did you know that six out of every 10 people with this disease will wander? A person with Alzheimer’s may become disoriented and suddenly leave the home, or take longer than usual to return from a walk. Wandering can be dangerous, because statistics show that when dementia-driven wanderers are found within the first 12 hours, 93% survive. This means that 7% do not make it back home alive. On the upside, many wanderers who ‘go missing’ are found near to their homes. In this post, we discuss the risk factors of wandering and suggest ways families can keep their elderly loved ones safe.

What Are the Biggest Risk Factors for Wandering?

The later the stage of dementia, the more likely a person is to wander. Next to memory loss, wandering is actually the second most common symptom of dementia, so it may also be common in early stage persons.

It is difficult for many to understand why a person might wonder. Experts note that often, it stems from a desire to return to a place that was often visited in the past – perhaps one’s old workplace, home, or grocery store. Often, a person may say or feel that they simply want to “go home,” even when they are already physically in their current home. Sometimes, wandering occurs in a cyclical fashion; that is, the person follows the same route, coming back home and heading out again.

Disorientation often peaks when the sun sets, and families can sometimes be unaware that their elderly loved one has left the home, since it is at this time that many families prepare dinner, attend to children, etc.

How Can Families or Caregivers Deal with Wandering?

Because the consequences of wandering can be fatal, it is vital to address a loved one’s dementia using a multifaceted approach. One surefire way to know where a person who wanders is, is GPS SmartSoles®: ergonomic insoles containing GPS technology. With this insole, wearers won’t feel ‘trapped’, as they sometimes feel with a ‘lock on’ bracelet. They won’t be aware that anything is different at all, yet you know they will be wearing it, since they can’t leave home without their shoes.

Additional means of prevention include keeping a diary to track the times a person tends to wonder,  being vigilant at these times.

Neighbours can also be of assistance; you can ask them to call you if they see the person wondering; also let local shopkeepers, dining establishments etc., as well as the local police, know about the issue.

Exercise for seniors with dementia is key, since research has shown that those who enjoy regular physical activity are less likely to wander at night.

Ensure that your loved on or patient has all his needs attended to; often, hunger or the need to go to the bathroom will result in nighttime wandering.

Finally, secure your home as well as possible with locks and alarms, to prevent late night wandering.

Wandering is a common symptom of dementia; one that can cause great stress to carers and family, who worry about the safety risks involved. By ensuring your home is safe, keeping your loved one or patient active, and relying on cutting-edge technology, you can significantly lower the risks associated with this habit.



Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash