Sep 24, 2012

Dementia Patient Wanders, Found 124 Miles from Nursing Home

Alzheimer's patients are often capable of doing things you could never imagine. This man proves once again there is more there than most of us "can" imagine.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Sixty percent of Alzheimer's patients wander. This means if your dememtia patient is in anyway mobile they will probably wander away sooner or later. The odds favor it.

A 67 year old man described as living with "severe dementia" wandered, I should say walked away, from his nursing home and was found 124 miles away in his home town.

Why is this interesting?

The weather was wet, he was walking in his slippers, using a walker, and must have been invisible to everyone that saw him on his 124 mile trek.

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This man managed to walk to the bus station and buy a bus ticket. No one noticed he looked a bit odd out in his slippers?

Think about it. Severe dementia, on a walker, walked to the bus station in his slippers and bought a bus ticket.

Lesson number one. Alzheimer's patients are often capable of doing things you could never imagine. This man proves once again there is more there than most of us "can" imagine.

Now imagine this. You help an Alzheimer's patient do things they use to enjoy. You guide and assist them. Will they do it? Probably.

Lesson number two. The public really doesn't understand Alzheimer's and related dementia.

This man is basically walking by himself, in the rain, in his slippers, using a walker and no one stopped him to assist him or ask him questions.

How about the person that sold him the bus ticket did he notice anything odd? Nope.

How about the other people in the bus station? Nope. How about a person riding with him on the bus? Nope.

How about someone that was driving down the street as he was walking to the bus station? Nope.

Did the man look odd? I would think so. Walking in his slippers, all alone, using a walker. I think this would get my attention.

Did anyone ask, where are you going, can I help you? Nope.

The man made it to his home town but didn't "remember" where he lived. So he was wandering around when found. 124 miles from the nursing home.

By the way. The police, local to the nursing home, were looking for him. They were looking in a radius about one third of a mile from the nursing home.

I guess the local police and managers of the nursing home didn't understand or believe that Alzheimer's patients are capable of more than they could imagine.

They obviously assumed he couldn't get far in his slippers and while using a walker.

We have stories here on the ARR that show just what dementia patients can do.

Man wanders away in red pajamas on Wednesday. 60 people are looking for him the entire time. They finally find him on Saturday.

Man jumps in his car in Texas to go visit relatives in Kansas. They finally find him 400 miles into Mexico. More there?

You might want to share this article via email or social media in the Alzheimer's community.

Back to our missing man. Yes, he was a diabetic and on insulin. No, he couldn't tell anyone where he was, or how he got there when they finally found him.

He did get there though.

I can't help sitting here thinking. Why can't more people understand that dementia patients are capable of more than "we" can imagine.

Instead of letting them wander away, why don't we help and guide them to do more things they use to do and enjoyed.

Sure, if you ask they will say NO. This is why you have to help, lead, and gently guide.

Smile on, hand out, palm up, guide.

That is the lesson I learned from reading about this man who wandered 124 miles from his nursing home.

Bob DeMarco
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The ARR knowledge base contains more than 3,811 articles with more than 306,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room