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Learning about Alzheimer’s, Silver Alert and Safe Return

elderly-couple.jpgThis is a funny story with a serious message. . .

Awhile back I was on my way to an appointment and of course I was running about 10 minutes late. So I am driving down  Middlebrook Road the road pretty focused, minding my own business.

This is a fairly large road, 3 lanes in each direction 40 mph speed limit going through town. As I get start to  get on I-270 on-ramp, I notice this older gentleman standing at the corner of the road and the on-ramp. He was probably 80 – 85ish, dressed to a tee. Navy blue pants, button down shirt, blue Izod cardigan he was as dapper as could be. Bless his heart. Nothing out of the ordinary about that the fact that he was standing at the on ramp hitch hiking is what made me think something was not right.

So I dutifully call the Germantown police department, not 911, and just told the woman it was probably nothing but an elderly gentleman was hitch hiking I just wanted one of the police officers to stop and check on him, maybe he was lost or disoriented. She said she would call and thanked me because this is a problem.

If I would have not been late, I would have stopped myself but I was on a mission. I called my husband to tell him what happened. The ultimate smart alec, my husband Mike, says ” Why did you go and do that? The poor guy just busted out of the old folks home thinking he was free at last and you go and bust him.” I just shook me head.

I thought about that, maybe I should have minded my own business, but I think I did the right thing by making sure he did not have Alzheimer’s and is lost or something of that nature?  If you have ever had a loved one suffer from Dementia or Alzheimer’s you know the pain and frustration it can cause.  Just remember the love.

I started thinking about our older family members. They need to be revered and protected like any other member of our family. If they have Dementia or Alzheimer’s becoming lost or disoriented is a common occurrence. The Alzheimer’s Foundation says that 60% of Alzheimer’s suffers will “wander” and become lost or disoriented. That is huge. Think how frustrating it is when you walk into a room and forget what you went in there for, just imagine that being your daily life.

Several states have started Silver Alerts which are similar to Amber alerts but for elderly Americans.  Another program is the Safe Return registry.  This is where you can register family members just in case a family member wanders.

Some of the States I have found that have enacted these laws are Colorado, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, California, and Florida. These are the states I have found so far. If your state, mine has not, has not enacted these laws please encourage your lawmakers to do so. 

We must protect and revere our older family members.  You never know, it could happen to you someday.

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