Monday, June 20, 2016

Wandering? No, This Isn't Going To Happen To Us! But It Did!!!

It was Father’s Day eve, and Lori’s mother was craving chicken. So, Lori made her mother chicken, sauteed broccoli (her favorite), organic brown rice and topped the meal off with gluten-free, sugar-free home-made apple pie. Lori and her mother watched  a movie together that was PG rated. ‘Mother. I can turn the channel to “Fido,” maybe they will have puppy adoption, or the show with police dogs that you like.”  Just then a bare chested handsome man appeared on the TV.  “No, I think we need to watch this.  Yeah, this is a REALLY good movie.  I REALLY like this movie, Lori!!”  So, Lori chuckled to herself and watched the movie with her mother. 

Then, an hour later Lori woke up to laughter.  Her mother and her husband were standing over Lori who had fallen asleep in a chair and had taken a picture of Lori with her mouth open.  She looked like a beached whale. Lori got a good laugh too, and told her husband he was forbidden to post this very unflattering picture on her Facebook page. 

As Lori and her husband started to retire, they both noticed that Lori’s mother didn’t appear to have a trace of dementia and almost appeared to be her past self. Lori went to bed early because she could no longer keep her eyes open.  As she tucked her mother into her bed she said, “Mother, Are you ready for bed?”  “No, no, no Lori, I can tuck myself in tonight, I am not tired, I can brush my own teeth, too. You ought to go to bed.” Lori then, (as always) told her mother she loved her, kissed her and gave her a big hug. And her mother (as always said the same thing she always said to Lori),  “I love being here with you Lori. “  And Lori said the same thing back to her mother, “Mother, I love every minute of being with you – I really do.”

Lori, brought her purse containing her car keys upstairs where her mother rarely if ever would go,  hiding them in the upstairs bathroom, and went to bed.  And the routine was always the same. Not only did they have a security system in place to insure that their mother would not wander outside at night, but they had 6 locks on all of the doors leading to the outside and 2 of the 6 locks were on the inside of the house. Lori’s mother was not able to move these locks that were placed high up on the doors. And this was for her own security, because they live in the woods surrounded by coyotes!!!

However, wandering at night was a normal occurrence for Lori’s mother and at times it wasn’t unusual for her to get up at 3AM to have a snack in the kitchen. So, wandering throughout the house with the exception of the basement was totally okay and expected.  But this morning was different.

At 2AM, Lori woke up to get water and checked on her mother. Everything was okay, and nothing was out of place. At 4AM Lori’s husband woke Lori up.  He saw that lights were on in the kitchen. He then noticed that the back door and the garage door was open, and that one of the cars was missing!! “Get up. Get up NOW  Lori!! Your mother is gone and so is the car!!!” 

Hysteria, dizziness and the inability to breathe followed by a panic to open the front door which Lori herself could not open because of the locks. “How could this happen???? We did everything right!!!  This CAN’ T be happening !!!! Mother hasn’t driven a car in 3 years."  So Lori attacked the front door trying to literally go outside to chase an invisible car  at 4AM in her pajamas and dropped the F-bomb trying to open the door. She was then greeted by her 14 year old who just held her while she sobbed unable to speak. ‘I am so sorry Mom.  Just breathe, it’s going to be okay. Everything is going to be okay, Mom!!” 

Lori’s husband without any panic at all, very calmly shifted into his practical mode. We are calling the police, we need your mother’s health information,  her picture, the make and model of your car, your license plate number, etc.  I will give the police this information,  then I will go out myself to find her.  You need to breathe Lori, you need to get it together. We have to move on this NOW!” 

Lori  and her husband were interviewed by the police at 4:15AM.  The police, in Lori’s opinion, were literally, SAINTS with her.  One of the officers said, “My father has dementia and I want you to know that this kind of thing happens more than you can imagine.  We normally find people safe, in a parking lot, or along the road with an empty gas tank.”  The police immediately started a local and national , “missing elder with dementia campaign,” and Lori’s mother’s picture was shared over the internet.

Father’s day was a blur of fast shooting texts, phone calls, emails etc. Lori, her husband and some friends took turns searching parking lots, country roads, etc.  But Lori, remembering her mother’s love for adventure  where as a teen she would ride with her best friend in a private airplane on cross country trips doing somersaults in the sky over corn fields, (having a personality of almost “Thelma and Louise"),  pictured her mother driving and driving until the gas would run out.

Finally, after 9 hours of searching, an officer appeared at their door with a solemn face. Lori didn’t know if her mother would be found dead, or alive. And he said, “Your mother was found in another state, but is OK.”  Lori wept holding the officer in her arms and couldn’t stop crying.  “Did my mother hurt herself or anyone?”  “I don’t have the details, said the officer.”  Lori then, confirmed with the officer in the other state via phone that there wasn’t a scratch on the car and that her mother had not hurt anyone and was not hurt, but was in a hospital receiving fluids.

With everything Lori and her family had done to insure her mother would not wander outside of her house in the middle of the night, it still happened!!!  And luckily, by a miracle no one was hurt from her  mother's actions.

“Mom, where were you going?”  Lori was curious to see what her mother may have been thinking. “Well, I think I was looking for you, and I couldn’t find you so I took the car. And did you know, that car really goes fast!!!” Lori suddenly felt sick when she said that.  “Were you scared???”  “Oh I prayed a lot that no one would be hurt.  But I was very scared when the car would not go anymore and just stopped in the middle of the highway like that!”

Lori’s mother was lost for 9 hours, and was found 3 hours away from home.  She had driven through a very large city with 8 lanes of traffic, through the busiest airport in the country and into another state wearing her pajama robe,  a pair of glasses, a t-shirt and a pair of shorts.  She was found in the car on a major interstate completely stopped in the right lane with her blinkers on!! The car did not have even a scratch on it.

“Mom, would it have helped you if I would have put my name on my bedroom door??”  “Oh, I think that would have helped, then I would have found you, Lori!”  Her mother must have found Lori’s hidden keys in the upstairs bathroom, and crawled into the garage at 3AM,  bypassing all of the security measures on the back door, wandering through the dark garage, to take Lori’s car!!!! Even with doing what Lori and her family thought was the right thing to do to prevent wandering, it happened anyway!!!!

Here are some very important stats on wandering from The Alzheimer’s Association:

More than 60 percent of those with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia will wander, and if a person is not found within 24 hours, up to half of individuals who wander will suffer serious injury or death.  (

A person with dementia may be at risk for wandering if he or she:  (
  • Comes back from a regular walk or drive later than usual
  • Tries to fulfill former obligations, such as going to work
  • Tries or wants to "go home" even when at home
  • Is restless, paces or makes repetitive movements
  • Has a hard time locating familiar places like the bathroom, bedroom or dining room
  • Acts as if doing a hobby or chore, but nothing gets done (moves around pots and dirt without actually planting anything)
  • Acts nervous or anxious in crowded areas, such as shopping malls or restaurants
If you live with or care for a person with dementia, here are a few tips to help you reduce the risk of wandering: (
  • Move around and exercise to reduce anxiety, agitation and restlessness
  • Ensure all basic needs are met (toileting, nutrition, thirst)
  • Carry out daily activities, such as folding laundry or preparing dinner, to provide daily structure
  • Reassure the person if he or he feels lost, abandoned or disoriented
  • Avoid busy places that are confusing and can cause disorientation, such as shopping malls
  • Place deadbolts either high or low on exterior doors
  • Control access to car keys (a person with dementia may not just wander by foot)
  • Do not leave someone with dementia unsupervised in new surroundings

Positive Communication methods for people living with dementia:  We recommend seminars by Teepa Snow,M.S., OTR/L.FAOTA, Naomi Feil, MSW,, and her books, all of them. And the life changing, ground breaking books, "Contented Dementia," by Dr. Oliver James, "The Mindful Caregiver," by Nancy L. Kriseman, and "Deeper Into The Soul," by Nader Robert Shabahangi, Ph.D, and Bogna Szymkiewicz, Ph.D

Copyright 2015 Caregivers Get Fit! Mama  Nicey

 DISCLAIMER:  The information in this blog is information only for educational purposes. It is not meant to be a replacement for getting medical advice from your own health professional regarding your own individual health challenge or condition. It is advised that before starting an exercise program, or making dietary changes of any kind, to seek out the advise of your own individual health care provider first.  Dr. Denise will not diagnose, treat, or give direct personal consultations/advice to you on this blog for any medical condition, but will give general examples, and scientific research on many different health topics.  How you decide to use the information is between you and your own medical/ health professional.


  1. This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Thanks a lot! sign in hotmail

  2. Thank you so much for commenting on this. So sorry it took me so long to respond. So glad this helped you!


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