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December 2013
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                                                 December 2013

In This Issue

How to recognize and prevent wandering behavior
Tips for going out in public
I Have Alzheimer’s website shows people with the disease they are not alone
New CJD support group
December Recipe

How to recognize and prevent wandering behavior

Alzheimer's disease causes millions of Americans to lose their ability to recognize familiar places and faces, thus increasing their risk of wandering and getting lost.  Many people cannot remember their name or address. They may become easily disoriented, even in their own neighborhood.

Six in 10 people with Alzheimer's disease will wander and it can happen during any stage of the disease.

Who is at risk of wandering?
Anyone who has memory problems and is able to walk is at risk for wandering. Even in the early stages of dementia, a person can become disoriented or confused for a period of time. It's important to plan ahead for this type of situation. Be on the lookout for the following warning signs:

  • Returns 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 difficulty locating familiar places like the bathroom, bedroom or dining room
  • Asks the whereabouts of current or past friends and family
  • Acts as if doing a hobby or chore, but nothing gets done (e.g., moves around pots and dirt without actually planting anything)
  • Appears lost in a new or changed environment

Tips to prevent wandering
Wandering can happen, even if you are the most diligent of caregivers. Use the following strategies to help lower the chances:

Carry out daily activities.
Having a routine can provide structure. Learn about creating a daily plan.
Identify the most likely times of day that wandering may occur.
Plan activities at that time. Activities and exercise can reduce anxiety, agitation and restlessness.
Reassure the person if he or he feels lost, abandoned or disoriented.
If the person with dementia wants to leave to "go home" or "go to work," use communication focused on exploration and validation. Refrain from correcting the person. For example, "We are staying here tonight. We are safe and I'll be with you. We can go home in the morning after a good night's rest."
Ensure all basic needs are met.
Has the person gone to the bathroom? Is he or she thirsty or hungry?
Avoid busy places that are confusing and can cause disorientation.
This could be a shopping malls, grocery stores or other busy venues.
Place locks out of the line of sight.
Install locks either high or low on exterior doors, and consider placing slide bolts at the top or bottom.
Camouflage doors and door knobs.
Camouflage doors by painting them the same color as the walls, or cover them with removable curtains or screens. Cover knobs with cloth the same color as the door or use childproof knobs.
Use devices that signal when a door or window is opened.
This can be as simple as a bell placed above a door or as sophisticated as an electronic home alarm.
Provide supervision.
Never lock the person with dementia in at home alone or leave him or her in a car without supervision.
Keep car keys out of sight.
A person with dementia may drive off and be at risk of potential harm to themselves or others.
If night wandering is a problem:
Make sure the person has restricted fluids two hours before bedtime and has gone to the bathroom just before bed. Also, use night lights throughout the home.

We Can Help

Although common, wandering can be dangerous - even life threatening. The Alzheimer's Association offers programs designed to assist in the monitoring and return of those who wander.

MedicAlert® + Alzheimer's Association Safe Return® is a nationwide identification program designed to save lives by facilitating the safe return of those who wander.

Comfort Zone® and Comfort Zone Check-In® allows families to monitor a person with dementia's whereabouts remotely using Web-based location services.

Read More!

Tips for going out in public

Coping with Alzheimer’s disease is challenging for everyone involved. Difficult or unusual behaviors can be hard to explain to strangers. Sadly, embarrassment and stigma prevent many from going out and enjoying the activities they used to.  But there are little things you can do to increase understanding and enable yourselves to enjoy getting out of the house.

People with Alzheimer’s disease slowly become less self-aware and less inhibited. They are unable to remember social norms or how they are expected to behave in certain situations. This can lead to strange or irrational behaviors.  Additionally, people with dementia may not have the mental reserve to cope with stress in a socially appropriate fashion.  They may not be able to express their needs, and then become agitated and irritable.

Understanding and being open about your loved one’s condition is key to successful outings. The Cleveland Area Chapter provides small cards for caregivers that can help them in awkward situations. If a person with dementia is displaying unusual behavior at a restaurant, for example, their caregiver hands them this small card that says “My companion has memory loss. Thank you for your patience.” Often, that is all that is needed to avoid an uncomfortable situation for all.

The card has also helped individuals in airport situations. “One family was having difficulty getting the person with the disease to take off their shoes, belt, etc.,” said Doreen Kearney, a Care Consultant with the Alzheimer’s Association. “The card was very helpful to them in getting through the security line.”

Some other tips for handling behaviors in public include:

  • Distraction. Change the activity or redirect their attention.
  • Ignore minor behaviors when possible. It may be more upsetting for all to confront the behavior.
  • Control the environment. Take note of certain places or things that trigger behaviors and avoid them.
  • Understand that they are coping with diminishing communications skills and may not have the ability to express themselves. Try to get to the root of their present need and decipher the behavior.
  • Do not try to correct or convince the person that their behavior is unacceptable. They may no longer be able to follow the logic or reasoning behind social nuances. 

If you would like us to send you these “Companion Cards,” please call us at 800.272.3900.

I Have Alzheimer’s website shows people with the disease they are not alone

The Alzheimer’s Association® recently launched “I Have Alzheimer’s Disease,” a new section of This robust site offers information and tools to empower a growing group of individuals living in the early stage of Alzheimer’s or another dementia to live their best life for as long as possible.

“The Association obtained input from people living in the early stage of the disease, including members of our Early-Stage Advisory Group. We found that individuals in this stage need to do more than learn about the disease. They want to know how others have handled receiving a diagnosis and what they are doing to lead a fulfilling life,” said Monica Moreno, director, early-stage initiatives, Alzheimer’s Association. “These Web pages are designed to do exactly that and more.”

The sentiment underlying I Have Alzheimer’s is simple: “You are not alone.” The Web section provides information and insights from real people living with the disease to help their peers move past the feeling of isolation and on to planning, preparing and receiving support.

“There’s a lot of information to digest after diagnosis. Some aspects can be difficult and we encourage users to take their time and learn at their own pace,” Moreno said. “As changes occur, new questions will come up. And we’re here to answer them.”

Learn More at

New CJD support group

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is the most common human form of a group of rare, fatal brain disorders known as prion diseases.

The Cleveland Area Chapter now offers a support group for people with CJD and their caregivers. The group meets the first Wednesday of the month at 6:00 pm at our main office, 23215 Commerce Park, Suite 300 in Beachwood. The group is facilitated by Alzheimer's Association staff and Dr. Brian Appleby.

About Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
Prion diseases, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, occur when prion protein, which is found throughout the body but whose normal function isn't yet known, begins folding into an abnormal three-dimensional shape. This shape change gradually triggers prion protein in the brain to fold into the same abnormal shape.

Through a process scientists don't yet understand, misfolded prion protein destroys brain cells. Resulting damage leads to rapid decline in thinking and reasoning as well as involuntary muscle movements, confusion, difficulty walking and mood changes. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease causes a type of dementia that gets worse unusually fast. More common causes of dementia, such as Alzheimer's, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia, typically progress more slowly.

CJD is rare, occurring in about one in 1 million people annually worldwide.

Nutritious Key Lime Frost Smoothie Recipe

1 cup Vanilla Ensure or other nutritional drink
1/4 cup (2 ounces) fresh or bottled Key lime juice
1/2 cup diced and peeled Granny Smith apple
1/2 cup ice
2 teaspoons granulated sugar (or 2 packages of sugar substitute used for baking)

Combine all ingredients together in the jar of a blender. Blend on high until smooth.
Makes: 2 1-cup servings

Find a Support Group

Support groups are an open gathering of people with common issues, needs and interests who come together to share their thoughts and experiences to better cope with and manage the challenges of dementia.
Alzheimer’s Association support groups are available throughout the United States.  Find a support group anywhere in the country.

Our Helpline is here for you 24/7

Call (800) 272-3900

The Alzheimer's Association 24/7 Helpline provides reliable information and support to all those who need assistance. Call us toll-free anytime day or night at 1.800.272.3900.

Our 24/7 Helpline serves people with memory loss, caregivers, health care professionals and the public. Highly trained and knowledgeable staff can help you with:

  • Understanding memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer's
  • Medications and other treatment options
  • General information about aging and brain health
  • Skills to provide quality care and to find the best care from professionals
  • Legal, financial and living-arrangement decisions

Our 24/7 Helpline also features:

  • Confidential care consultation that can help with decision-making, provide support, crisis assistance and education on issues families face every day
  • Help in a caller's preferred language using our translation service that features more than 200 languages and dialects
  • Referrals to local community programs, services and ongoing support

Find more caregiving tips online here!


Alzheimer's Association

Our vision: A world without Alzheimer's disease®.
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.