News headlines in South Florida frequently confirm the dangers of living with Alzheimer’s disease. From a man driving in the opposite direction of traffic on a major highway to the woman found raped and beaten after wandering from her home. It is clear that having Alzheimer’s disease is not safe when you are alone.
The need for 24 hour supervision/care for Alzheimer’s patients has become increasingly evident; however, particularly in the early stages, many still do not perceive the need to be imperative. Please take a moment to consider how the following safety issues support the need for 24-hour supervision, even when the patient functions independently in all activities of daily living.
Wandering: no Alzheimer’s patient is like any other. Many will wander away from home and get lost; many never do. The difficulty is that you never know when this may happen. In fact, someone you consider to be an early stage Alzheimer’s patient may go out, as usual, for a nice stroll in the neighborhood, only to be found lost and confused in a location he/she never intended to be.
Leaving candles burning, leaving the stove on, forgetting to turn off running water, etc: Simple household appliances and other items can be deadly when forgotten.
Driving: Dangerous, even in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Alzheimer’s patients have described whole locks of time when they don’t recall where they were or what they were doing. This often happens while driving and we can’t estimate when that “first tie” will be. Reaction times and judgement are also affected.
Forgetting Medications: All medications must be taken regularly for optimum health. Patients with Alzheimer’s and related dementias exacerbate additional medical conditions such as diabetes by taking medications irregularly.
Supervision, for the caregiver, is a challenge at best. According to a Stanford study, “Alzheimer’s caregivers have a 63 percent higher mortality rate than non-caregivers. In fact, 40 percent of Alzheimer’s caregivers die from stress related disorders before the patient dies.” Caregivers are literally killing themselves to make sure their family member is well cared for ,so I’m no way suggesting working even harder! What I do suggest is that you utilize every means available to provide around-the-clock help for your loved one, as well as respite for you. Help from friends, family, and professionals can make the difference in your health and the safety of that person you care so much for.
Keep both you and your loved one from becoming statistics. You’ll be grateful for the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved one is never alone.