KETTERING, Ohio (WDTN) – As temperatures dip dangerously low, the Miami Valley Alzheimer’s Association is reminding caregivers to keep a close eye on loved ones with dementia.
The organization says approximately six in ten people with the disease will wander at least once. Wandering in freezing temperatures can present dangerous, and potentially deadly, risks.
“We get calls sometimes of folks who just walk out the door and they have pajamas on and no shoes,” said Sarah Cameron, the care and support coordinator for the Miami Valley Alzheimer’s Association. “We worry about them getting cold outside and not knowing where they are and how to get them back to their home.”
Cameron recommends coming up with an action plan if your loved one wanders. She advises some families to add locks or alarms to doors. The Alzheimer’s Association also offers MedicAlert Safe Return bracelets or pendants. The identification medallions can include names, allergies and contact information and also enter the individual in a national 24-hour emergency response system.
Those with dementia are especially vulnerable, but other older adults can also benefit from a visitor checking on them during extreme weather.
“They may lose their way of communication or be able to reach out, so regularly check on loved ones or older adults,” Cameron said. “They’re really susceptible to the cold… and maybe they’re not comfortable going out on the roads and getting the essentials that they need.”
The Alzheimer’s Association also advises keeping an emergency contact list handy, with phone numbers for local police, fire and utilities providers.