Rotary Committee says wandering points to moderately severe Alzheimer’s

POSTED: 08/31/11 1:13 PM

St. Maarten – Media reports about the missing Victor Thomas from Betty’s Estate inspired the Rotary Alzheimer’s Awareness Committee to submit an article about wandering, chairlady Maria Buncamper-Molanus stated in a press release. This is the article’s unabridged content.
Alzheimer’s patients wandering away is a symptom usually experienced in the 6th stage based on the seven stage deterioration scale or the Reisberg Scale and usually lasts from 8 to 10 years, but can sometimes stretch out as long as 20 years. Stage 6 is considered Middle Dementia or Moderately Severe Alzheimer’s disease. Persons in this stage of Alzheimer’s show a total lack of awareness of present events and inability to accurately remember the past. They progressively lose the ability to take care of daily living activities like dressing, toileting, and eating but are still able to respond to nonverbal stimuli, and communicate pleasure and pain via their behavior. Agitation and hallucinations often show up in the late afternoon or evening. Dramatic personality changes such as wandering or suspicion of family members are common. Many can’t remember close family members, but know they are familiar. This stage lasts approximately 2.5 years.
In case an Alzheimer’s patient in your care does wander, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place. Notify neighbors and local police about your Alzheimer’s patient’s tendency to wander, and ask them to call you if they see your elder wandering without supervision.
If a police search becomes necessary, keep on hand a recent photo and some of their unwashed clothing to help search-and-rescue dogs. (To do this properly, place the clothing in a plastic bag with plastic-gloved hands, and replace this clothing monthly.) Buncamper-Molanus suggests contacting the St. Maarten Alzheimer’s Foundation on hotline 9220.
A dementia patient may not call out for help or answer your calls, and often won’t leave many physical signs. He or she may get stuck in a place that they cannot get out of, leaving them at risk for dehydration and hypothermia.
How to find a missing Alzheimer’s patient
• Check dangerous areas near the home, such as bodies of water, dense foliage, bus stops, high balconies, and heavily traveled roads.
• Look within a one-mile radius of where the patient was before they wandered.
• Look within one hundred feet of a road, as most wanderers start out on roads and remain close by. Especially look carefully into bushes and ditches, as the person may have fallen or become trapped.
• Search in the direction of the wanderer’s dominant hand. People usually travel first in their dominant direction. Investigate familiar places, such as former residences or favorite spots. Often, wandering has a particular destination.
• If you suspect that the patient used a car or public transportation, you’ll need to consider likely places that are farther afield.
“I would like to wish the family and caregivers of Mr. Victor Thomas much strength and emphasize that the care for people with Alzheimer’s is really one that involves the entire community,” Buncamper-Molanus stated.
The Rotary Alzheimer’s Awareness Committee has T-shirts on sale this Saturday at both Bush Road and Union Road Le Grand Marché’s. The St. Maarten Alzheimer’s Foundation will be on location to provide information about the disease. Proceeds from the sales will be donated to the Alzheimer Foundation.

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