Identifying An Alzheimer's Person What To Look For
(Characteristics of How They Might Appear)
A. they may have difficulty finding a word and say a related word instead of the one that is lost;
B. they may not be able to understand what you are saying or only be able to grasp part of it;
C. they make talk fluently but not make sense;
D. writing and understanding the written word will also deteriorate;
E. they may be able to talk of the distant past but not of recent events;
F. they may lose the normal social conventions of conversation and interrupt,ignore another speaker,
G. not respond when spoken to or become very self-centered;
H. they may have difficulty expressing emotions appropriately.
The above is good short description of what an Alz. person is like. They commonly will have difficulty in most aspects of every daily living.
The physical characteristics are also easy to spot. If you will notice in the stage 6 help sheet, their physical appearance is now starting to change.
I. they may
dress inappropriately (i.e. wearing a winter coat in summer time);
J. they may be wearing only one shoes, or multi layers of clothing;
K. their appearance is disheveled;
L. their actions, faltering.
The general sense of an Alz. person is one of bewilderment. They do not stride along with an air of purpose, but rather with caution and trepidation. They make walk a few steps and stop to observe their surroundings. They may begin in one direction only to turn around and walk the other way. If they are early in stage 5, they are very apt to constantly survey their surroundings. They may give the appearance they are looking for landmarks, and they probably are. There is a sense of uncertainty about them that is quite distinguishable if you take the time to notice...especially in their behaviors.
Someone who knows where their going does not respond or look like a frightened child. Their walk is not aimless and they do not wear expressions of frustration and fear. The emotions and thoughts of an Alz. person are often reflected in their reactions so close observation can easily pin point a lost victim.
Characteristics Of How They Might Appear:
M. what instinct
drew you to observe this person more closely than others?
N. what is their over all state of appearance?
O. how are they reacting to things going on around them?
P. is there a sense of 'uncertainty' reflected in their behaviors?
Q. does this person look lost?
R. is this person a familiar face in this area? (i.e. have you noticed them before?)
S. does this person appear to be milling about aimlessly?
If you answer yes to any of these questions then stop and have a closer look. The worst that can happen is that you've successfully rescued a lost tourist or visitor and what's so bad about that?
Other Things To Look For
Ok, you now suspect you've found a lost Alz. person. So what do you do? You begin a methodical search for identity. First, remember the right approach, and work to gain their trust. As I said before, the more upset an Alz. person is, the less apt you are to get any information from them. So NEVER rush a situation like this.
Begin by asking pertinent questions, giving them plenty of time to answer. Listen closely to their responses so you'll have an idea of what stage you are dealing with. (Early Alz. victims will usually know their name, but they may or may NOT be able to tell you where they live.) Can they give you a phone number? A general idea of an address...a partial name of a street?
If that is beyond their ability LOOK to see if you can spot some sort of alert. Can you see if the person is wearing an identification bracelet? Is there a chain around his/her neck that may contain information?
Ask if they might have a drivers license or some form of identification in their pocket? You might convince them to give that to you. And if you can get close enough, check to see if there are labels sewn into their clothing. A smart caregiver usually has some form of identity placed somewhere on the victim.
If no identity turns up, your only course of action is to begin contacting the places I recommended earlier. Police Stations, Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Facilities, Adult Daycare Centers and Senior Centers.
By Marsha Penington
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