BEING AND Remaining in connection
in all stages of dementia
In case Charlie wandered off - Gaynor’s strategies
I made up an ‘ID’ card, with Charlie’s photo, a short sentence about his dementia, and my contact details. I printed off a few copies so I could make sure there was always one in his wallet.
My friend, Helen, shared a great idea for when we were travelling. I made a ‘name tag’ for both of us, in a plastic cover attached to a lanyard so it was very visible. Because I had one too, it looked ‘normal’ – he might have taken it off otherwise. We had our names on one side but on the other side it had a note about dementia, our flight details, and my contact number.
I got myself on the Safely Home database. Dementia Australia have linked up with the Missing Persons Unit of the NSW Police Force to create ‘Safety Home’. For a small fee, you get a bracelet engraved with an ID number and a toll free phone number that someone can ring if they find a lost person.
But there were a couple of problems. Charlie didn’t like wearing the bracelet – I thought it would be too difficult for him to undo but I underestimated him! So I ended up attaching a big safety pin (the old-fashioned nappy kind are great as they are safe) so that I could pin it in his pocket.
And the one time it should have been really useful, I encountered another problem. Charlie did go missing and I contacted our local police station. They didn’t seem to know about the program. The person I spoke to was really unhelpful – she wanted me to report it as a conventional missing person case – including going to the police station to file a written report. That was SO unhelpful! And she wanted me to send a photo – but I didn’t have a photo on my phone. I wasn’t at home – I was out looking for Charlie! She acted as if I was being difficult because I didn’t have a recent photo of my husband on my phone!
When I told her that the Safely Home file had the photo she needed, she just
said she didn’t know how it worked. Lesson? Contact your local police station
and make sure every staff member is trained to use the Safely Home system!
ICE = In Case of Emergency
I made sure that there was an ICE entry on his phone (we all need this!).
Enter the phone number of a couple of useful people – yourself, relatives,
neighbour – anyone who could be contacted if there is a accident, or he
wandered off and someone thought to check the phone.
Seen in a café in Beverley Hills, NSW