Tracking a family member with cognitive impairment can be a challenge

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If you of a certain age, someone you know, maybe your parent, grandparent or friend has some type of cognitive impairment. Memory loss, and the inability to recognize familiar faces or places can pose a danger and, if they wander off and get lost it's terrifying for you and a hazard to them.

There are several monitoring and tracking devices that can help keep those with dementia safe. But, implementing them is not always an easy decision for families, and getting your loved one to wear them can be a challenge.

Jean Corns mom Betty Macdowall suffered from Alzheimer's. She said, "She would think she was going to visit her mother, she would pack her suitcase and I would see her heading out the driveway." Corn added, "She did wander, luckily in my situation we were in a setting where if she wandered she still couldn't get very far, but, it was still very unnerving because there were dangers everywhere."

Her mom wore an ID Bracelet but there were challenges. Corn said, "She was confused about what it was, why am I wearing this, and we would make it special we would tell her, I would put on a bracelet and say, look, I have one too." Corn even used her moms love of animals to cajole her to wear the bracelet saying, "Misty has one one." Referring to her pets collar. And with these encouraging word her mother would comply.

Michael Fitzgerald, R.N. of Doctors Hospital of Sarasota also says an ID bracelet or monitoring device is a good idea, and offers suggestions on how to approach the topic with your loved one. He said, "Talk about about how this will help them potentially be more independent because they will have the ability to be able to be monitored or followed in a way that creates safety for them."

Often those with cognitive impairment including traumatic brain injury can be defensive and have problems understanding when they may be in danger, he explained. 'They could get into a car accident, they could get lost, if they are wandering off into a remote area."

Getting the whole family on board of tracking devices may not be so easy, said Corn.  "People think that they are doing a disservice to their parents or their loved ones by monitoring, but all they have to do is think about them being out alone, confused, scared."

Corn added, if she would have had access to a tracking device, she would have used it.

"Anything you can do to protect them, because they have no defenses." She added, that getting absentee family members that weren't there day to day witnessing possible dangers to agree on the id bracelet was one of the biggest obstacles, but, she also says that until they had an opportunity to walk in her shoes they need to get over it.

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