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Home Alone with Alzheimer's

Some of the most heartbreaking stories I hear involve an Alzheimer’s/dementia patient that was left alone and was later found injured, lost or dead. Dead is a strong word. It makes us shudder. But when dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and protecting those affected by it, we can’t let wear rose tinted glasses.  It happens.  Sometimes we see it on the news and sometimes we don’t; but every day a patient goes missing somewhere in the U.S.  So, how do you know if it’s safe to leave an Alzheimer’s patient alone?

Some of the signs you can look for include whether or not the person with Alzheimer’s:

  • becomes confused or unpredictable under stress?
  • recognizes a dangerous situation, for example, fire?
  • knows how to use the telephone in an emergency?
  • knows how to get help?
  • stays content within the home?
  • wanders and become disoriented?
  • show signs of agitation, depression, or withdrawal when left alone for any period of time?
  • attempts to pursue former interests or hobbies that might now require supervision, such as cooking, appliance repair, or woodworking?

There are usually other signs too. Signs that only caregivers and family members might recognize. Be aware of these signs. Pay attention to your intuition. If you are able, reach out and schedule an assessment with a qualified professional that can help.


Elayne Forgie has been a professional geriatric care manager for over 20 years and was a founding Board Member of the Florida Geriatric Care Managers Association. She is the President/CEO of ElderCare at Home, Inc. and The Alzheimer's Care Resource Center.

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