By Lois Jasmer
As I scrolled thru my Facebook feed tonight I came across one that really caught my attention. No not some political post or some fake post about one of my favorite celebrities that had passed away. The post was about a Missing 85 year old man in Lynnwood, Washington. My heart sank as I quickly scrolled to the photo to be sure it was not someone I am working with as a senior advisor.
This man with dementia had wandered off from his home, wearing only a windbreaker on this chilly 32 degree winters night. I work daily with families of loved ones that have dementia. I hear daily that “oh he is not that bad, he has never wandered off” Or “she puts the sugar in the dishwasher thinking it is the dish soap, but she is fine” or “he wants to go home, and he is sitting in the living room of the home we have lived in for 45 years”. It makes me wonder what this helpless, lost man in Lynnwood’s signs were that nobody thought were “that bad”.
Many families and spouses of those with dementia try to keep their loved ones home longer than what is safe; both for the caregiver and the person with the dementia. Caregivers are at great risk for hospitalizations themselves due to stress and injuries caused while assisting the person with the dementia. The possible risk to the person with dementia comes from all angles; from eating the leaf of a poinsettia, tripping on the bathroom rug, falling down the stairs because he doesn’t realize he can’t negotiate the stairs any longer, taking all the pills in the pill box at one time when the caregiver is not looking (they look like candy after all), to walking out the door and heading HOME because the caregiver thought she could go to the store for 20 minutes since he has never wandered off before.
Many spouses feel guilty about moving their loved one. They worry about what others will think; while inside they are ready, exhausted, wanting their own life back. It is a very difficult decision to make. That is where having an Advisor, like myself, can help you make a solid, educated, sound choice that will give you peace of mind that your loved one is being well cared for by a reputable provider.
As I look at the photo of the missing senior I think of those that I have moved to safe, caring homes. I think of the wife that I know now can have a loving, heartfelt relationship again with her husband and also a full, vibrant life of her own. I think of the missing senior and the family that I only wish I could have worked with before this tragedy happened on this cold December night.