A Helping Hand
By MELANIE KILGORE-HILL
Missing Senior Network Alerts Family, Friends
To help keep seniors living with dementia safe, Home Instead Senior Care has launched a free tool - the Missing Senior Network (missingseniornetwork.com) -now available in Nashville.
Similar to other alert systems, family caregivers can notify a network about a missing senior with Alzheimer's. Families can create a free account and input their network of friends and neighbors before a wandering event occurs. Then, if a senior wanders, families can quickly activate their personal network, sending out an alert to via text or email.
The alert system is part of PreventWandering.com, a free community education program with tips and resources to help families gain insight into what triggers these events and steps to take to keep loved ones safe. The program was developed in collaboration with the Alzheimer's Association.
"Our ultimate focus is making sure people know they can keep seniors at home for as long as possible, and everything we do caters to that mission," said Emily Barnes, regional director for the Home Instead Nashville and Franklin areas. "If a loved one is physically able to get around, even if it's on foot, they're at risk."
According to Barnes, six out of 10 Alzheimer's patients will wander. "People often think they're wandering just to wander, but that's far from the truth. They believe they have a purpose in where they're going, although it may not make sense to me or you."
Barnes said wandering also could be triggered by fatigue, disorientation and change in routine. She urged family members to first report a missing person to 911, which doesn't require a 24-hour wait, and then to use the Missing Seniors Network. The Alzheimer's Association also has experts available around the clock if an advocate is needed.