How to Create an Alzheimer’s Wandering Kit

seniorwanderingWhen a Michigan senior loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, the entire family is impacted. Managing a loved one’s dementia at home can be an around the clock challenge. It is especially true if your loved one wanders.

This behavior frightens Michigan caregivers more than almost any other because the outcome can be so devastating. Research from a study conducted by the Virginia Department of Emergency Services revealed that 61% of those who wander and aren’t located in the first 24 hours will not be found alive. That is a chilling statistic. Despite family caregivers’ dedication, experts at the Alzheimer’s Association estimate that six in ten people with Alzheimer’s will wander. Many of them will do so repeatedly.

To help you be proactive in keeping your Alzheimer’s loved one safe, we’ve pulled together this guide for creating an Alzheimer’s Wandering Kit. It will aid law enforcement and the media in reacting quickly in case of an emergency.

Creating an Alzheimer’s Wandering Kit

Your Alzheimer’s wandering kit should include:

1.  A written description of your loved one with a photo. Include any birthmarks, tattoos, scars, or other physical characteristics that will make them easier to identify. Format the information in to a flyer that can be easily reproduced if you are able to do so. While it is tough to think about and even more difficult to do, it may save valuable time if your loved one goes missing.

2.  Have a written list of emergency contact people in your family that includes their home, work, and cell phone numbers. If your loved one is found, they may need immediate medical attention and information from family. Make it easy for first responders to get in touch with someone in the family by providing them with multiple contact people.

3.  If you have a computer, it is good to have a digital version of all of this information saved on it. You could also email copies to several family members and keep a copy on a flash drive. In the event of an emergency, you will be able to quickly email it to the media and local emergency services staff. Including a few minutes of video of your loved one is especially helpful.

4.  While people who wander may head off looking to “go home,” the fact is they often have no idea where that really is. But it might help to have a written list of destinations and addresses they may be trying to get to when they leave. The list should include other family member’s homes, their church or synagogue, a favorite social club or gathering spot, and places they have worked.

5.  Have a copy of their medical file saved in the wandering kit. Be sure to include everything first responders would need to know in the event they find them, and they need medical assistance. This is especially important if your loved one’s verbal abilities are limited. At a minimum you should include their medical history, medications, allergies, and physician contact information. Be sure to update the information whenever a medication or health condition changes.

6.  Finally, don’t overlook keeping information on their car. If they are still driving, they may get lost and you will need help from authorities in other local communities. Keep a picture of their car along with a written description of the make, model, year and license plate number in your wandering kit.

Is there anything else you would include in this list?