Solutions for caregivers: Wandering

Yesterday was World Alzheimer Day – a day on which Alzheimer associations concentrate their efforts on raising awareness about dementia. But for families and caregivers who live with this condition every day, each day can be awareness day – especially when the person living with Alzheimer’s Disease has started wandering.

Wandering is common behaviour for those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.  It is a result of physical changes in the brain, and may occur at any time of the day or night. While wandering itself is not dangerous, it can expose the person to dangers such as traffic or being inappropriately dressed for the weather.

There is quite a lot of stress for the caregiver when wandering becomes an issue.  Although steps can be taken to try to manage the wandering – a fenced backyard, locks placed where the individual cannot reach them, and  sounds monitors to listen for where that person is within the home – the question of “what if” the person gets out remains to haunt the caregiver.

Registry helps to find individuals – quickly
The Alzheimer Society of Canada has developed a nation-wide programme in partnership with the RP that can help.  The Safely Home(tm) — Alzheimer Wandering Registry assists in finding a person who is lost and returning that individual home. 

The caregiver registers the person for whom they are caring with the registry, for a fee of $25. (This fee is paid for veterans by Veterans Affairs Canada). They receive a package which includes registration forms and a bracelet. Once a person is registered, important information about them is stored in a confidential database.  If a registrant goes missing, the caregiver calls the local police.  The police can then access this information – such as physical characteristics and personal history – to use in their search. 

When a registrant is found, the police use the identification number from their bracelet to determine where the person lives and who should be contacted.

More information is available at:

Eventually may be as easy as a phone call
In the near future there may be other ways to track wandering family members.  Bell Mobility’s new Centre for Wireless Innovation recently unveiled among its other projects a series of services called Location-Based Services that use the GPS (global positioning system) in most of Mobility’s latest phones.  This service would allow, for example, family members to track the location of cellphones in their family plan. 

As cell phones get smaller, it might be possible to attach a pager-sized device on the individual suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and then be able to track their location. Now there’s a high-tech solution!