Remember: It is still Alzheimer’s ‘Do Not Forget’ Month

January 19, 2011; By: Audrey Miller
All About Estates

 How sad I was to read that Mrs. Chiu froze to death, close to her own home last week in Toronto. She died because she froze to death. She froze to death because she had dementia and wandered out of her home and became disoriented. As if having dementia wasn’t bad enough. What a sad comment to read that neighbours heard her cries and did not respond. Disease strikes anyone, anytime. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor and being diagnosed with having a dementia, is no different.
So can we learn anything from this tragedy? Can we perhaps consider, that there may be ways to minimize the risk?

The Globe and Mail, January 18, 2011 article “COPING WITH DEMENTIA” highlighted various methods to deal with someone who has ‘wandered off’ including Safely Home, ( a national registry that provides a wrist band with an ID number that is accessible by the police. There are many options however that can be addressed BEFORE the door is opened unexpectedly and the person walks out. This can happen even with 24 hour supervision as supervision does not mean there is someone permanently beside the individual. The caregiver might be in another room. Options can include door chimes, changing location of door locks, cosmetically covering or disguising exits, use of signage, sound or visual monitoring, and bed alerts, just to name a few. There are experts and resources available, some at no charge (Community Care Access Centres, Alzheimers Societies) as well as private occupational therapists and Geriatric Care Managers, who can assess the home and provide informed recommendations. There are many terrible consequences of loving and/or living with someone who has dementia; freezing to death doesn’t have to be one of them.

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