Caring for Alzheimer's and dementia patients

Published: Oct. 31, 2019 at 6:21 PM EDT
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By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News

October 31, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Experts say it can be tough keeping up with adults who have Alzheimer's or dementia.

Their memory loss and/or delusions create a tendency to wander off.

Summer Matchett with the Alzheimer's Project in Tallahassee says dementia patients wander for a variety of reasons: boredom, living in their own reality, or "sundowning," which she says is getting agitated once the sun goes down.

All of this putts the patient in danger and puts stress on the caregiver.

"It was like an eight year battle," said Julie Menendez.

She helped take care of her grandfather when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

"It became to the point where he didn't know our names. That was very hard. He raised me, so with him not knowing who I was a big kick to the gut," Menendez.

Her grandfather would try to drive.

"He would sit in the car and would try to go somewhere but he didn't even know how to go to the grocery store. So we took the car battery out, then we took the remote out of the car keys," said Menendez.

Matchett says that's classic behavior of Alzheimer's and dementia patients.

She says wandering off is very common.

"They might be in there mind be living in a different year. They might be walking down the street to go visit a childhood friend. They could also believe that there's something that they're supposed to be doing right now. So, they'll leave," Matchett said.

"It's tough just to be honest with you," said Lois Lecce.

She's currently caring for her 83-year-old husband. She says she has to constantly watch him because of his Dementia.

"It keeps us up quite a bit during the night. He's my shadow. Sometimes he's my little boy," Lecce said.

Lexi de Leon, the executive director of Elder Day Stay, said, "I recommend that people don't try and care give by yourself. There's no way that one person can handle taking care of somebody all the time."

De Leon says you don't have to care give alone.

There are programs available and places such as Elder Day Stay that gives caregivers a break.

It's suggested for patients to wear an identification bracelet in the event they wander off.

Advocates also suggest caregivers secure all doors in the home. You can buy an inexpensive chimer to put on the doors.

They say also never leave car keys lying around.

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