Wandering leaves Alzheimer’s patients at risk

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — It is lunch time at Dana Reynolds’ house.  She is busy in the kitchen making a sandwich for her father Henry Cernicek who just moved in August 26.

“It can be stressful,” Reynolds admits about her new role as caregiver.

Cernicek was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years ago.  Reynolds knew it was time to step in when her mother, his wife of many years, passed away.

“By him being here, I can keep an eye on things much more closely than if he were in assisted living,” Reynolds explains.

The Alzheimer’s Association says six in ten people with dementia will wander.  Up to half of them who are not found within 24 hours will suffer serious injury or death.

Dana Reynolds cherishes memories with her father, like her wedding day, now that he is dealing with symptoms of Alzheimer's.
Dana Reynolds cherishes memories with her father, like her wedding day, now that he is dealing with symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Reynolds says she told precautions because she was aware of the risks.

“I have an alarm system, so at night-time I turn the alarm on.  I have a monitor so I can see if he gets up during the night.”

She also installed a wireless doorbell her dad can ring at night, signed him up for the MedicAlert and Safe Return emergency response services and bought him a GPS bracelet.

Home Instead also just launched an online Missing Senior Network to aid families who watch helplessly as symptoms progress.

“Short-term memory loss.  He can get confused sometimes,” Reynolds lists the changes she has noticed in her father.

Cernicek has not wandered yet, but Reynolds says she has peace of mind since safeguards are in place.  She encourages other potential caregivers also to plan ahead so after the move they can focus on remembering the good times and making new ones before the disease makes it harder and harder to break through.

The Richmond community can support families like Diane’s at the 2016 Walk to End Alzheimer’s on November 5.  Register to join the WRIC Taking the Lead team by following this link.

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