Safety vs independence....


Registered User
Apr 1, 2003
Hi all,

I am looking for some ideas to allow my father to keep his independence BUT help keep him safe. Dad has Alzheimer's which has been gradually getting worse for about two years. It seemed to settle down for about a year when he was prescribed aricept. However, the aricept seems less effective and although he has trouble with a lot of day to day activities, he, until recently, enjoys a long daily walk.

Dad has a pretty set routine and still enjoys walking so this is very important to him. Also, until recently he has never lost his way, he does the same set walks so this helps him keep tabs on his location.

The problem is that recently, well for want of a better word, he just gets lost.

Every afternoon at about 2:00PM he goes for the same walk. Unfortunately, over the last two weeks he has just lost his way on two occassion and instead of returning at the usual time of 5:00PM has returned at 7:00PM or later. He does not remember where he has been and why he got lost but does seem very stressed and annoyed with himself. This, as you can imagine has been worrying my mum sick. We don't want to suggest that he stops going out and unfortunately there is noone who can go with him (my mother is dissabled so cannot join him).

I am guessing that the reason for this recent problem is a few other changes in his routine as (he has had to accompany my mum to hospitol a few times a week). We have noticed over the last few years that any change to his routine causes confussion, so we try to keep to a routine but this was unavoidable.

OK, so here is the question(s).

We want to keep him independent and keep up these walks which mean the world to him. Firstly, are we being realistic, has the onset of Alzheimers really jumped a further stage where this kind of confussion and the risk of getting lost is going to compromise his safety.

Secondly, if as I hope, we can continue these walks does anyone have any suggestions on how we can help him keep track of time and continue these walks safely. Here is a few ideas we've had but please please put forward any suggestions you may have.

1. We could try the mobile phone again so my mum can contact him. This would be ideal, but he does find mobiles a struggle and this could just add to the problem.

2. We could look into another device to help contact him. Any ideas?

3. We will provide him with a small card with address, and contact number. This he could give to a taxi if ever he gets a little losted and disoriented. Trouble is we tried this before and he just miss placed it. Any ideas?

4. We just accept the fact that walking alone is not an option and just make sure that he has a companion when he goes out. I don't like this and he is not going to like this option as it will mean that he can no longer have a daily walk BUT it may be realistic and well just have to deal with it.

So if you have any ideas that will help sustain the quaility of my dads life for a little longer, please post.

Many thanks

West Kent

Registered User
Dear charlie,

we, J and R, have alzheimer's and dementia and have experienced getting lost. You're thinking along the right lines as we to carry cards etc to. We agree that you don't want your Dad to loose his independence, we only have a few other suggestions, hope they help you come to a desicion. J says "Personnally the places that i go to the people know my situation so at times when i get lost they help me get back on the right track." R thinks - " I would suggest that someone always goes out with your father, as over time his confidence may be damaged, and personally i find it very helpful"

good luck with your situation

kind regards
J and R

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