Thursday, June 18, 2009

Trips To The Store

Excursions with a person with Alzheimer’s is both rewarding as well as stressful. One particular event made me change what procedures I used when I took Mom shopping with me.

During one Christmas season I took Mom shopping at Wal-Mart. The store was packed. It was snowing outside, the sidewalks were slippery, the parking lot was overflowing and there were lots of people in the store.

I kept my Mother close to me. I was very conscious of where she was. Then I turned my back for just a moment. She was gone! I was panic stricken. I searched the store, talked to security all to no avail. I went back to where we first got separated. I was trying to describe my mother to the security guards when I looked up to see a family walking towards me, followed by my mother. I was relieved! I was ecstatic!

I remembered seeing them earlier. The mother said that they walked by us and awhile later realized that my mother was following them. They decided they would go back to where they first saw us and see if they could find me. After that incident I made a number of changes.

1) I chose times and places that were not chaotic.
2) I made tags from shrink art plastic with my mother’s name, address and phone #. I attached these to her coat, her shoes and her shirt.
3) I made a homemade leash similar to the one my mother made for my rambunctious sister when she was a toddler. I tried to make it as unobtrusive as I could. Unfortunately it frequently came off. I tried looking for hi tech options with variable success.
4) I carried current pictures of my mother with me.

Recently I read an article about a mother who takes a picture of her child with her cell phone before each outing. What a great safety strategy that would also work with memory challenged individuals. It would provide current picture and accurate description of what they are wearing today. Having it on your cell phone makes it easy to forward to police or other individuals who are helping to search if someone gets separated.

It was a great day when I learned about the Alzheimer’s Safe Return Program 1-800-272-3900. This program helps police and caregivers 24/7. Registration is about $40.00 part of the program includes jewelry and identification cards and a number if the person is found.

1 comment:

Missa said...

What a wake up call! As a parent of small children, I get used to being hyperaware of where they are when we're out and about, but I never would have thought of having to be the same with an adult as well. Great post!