My dad walks...not wanders, walks. Any advice? - AgingCare.com

My dad walks...not wanders, walks. Any advice?

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My parents have lived in the same house for 65 years and my dad has been walking for miles from the house every day for exercise since he retired 27 years ago (Before that he rode a bicycle to work and back for 30 years.) Now he has moderate cognitive loss due to aging (dementia) and cannot remember how to get home. So we have two different trackers on him, an identity bracelet, and caregivers at home who take care of my mom (who has a bad recovery on a broken hip), and go get my dad when he has been out for more than 30 or 40 minutes. Someone reported him for walking all the time. Adult protective services came to the door and scared the bejeebers out of our caregiver and her agency saying that she was responsible for him and if anything happened to him during his walks she could be fined or go to jail. My dad has not committed any crimes. My parents' wishes are to die in their own home. The caregiver agency is now telling us we have to hire two caregivers, one to walk with my dad and one to take care of my mom. I live in California. I cannot imagine that this is legal, but any advice is appreciated.

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If I were the caregiver, I would do EXACTLY the same thing. APS has a lot of power. He is in serious danger unless he has 24/7 care (including on walks). What if he removers the tracker (which my husband did)? What if the tracker fails. Sometimes the tracker networks don't cover all areas.

People who walk (or wander) and can't find their way home are at risk for NEVER finding their way home. It happens a lot. Identity bracelets are only useful if someone finds him. Sometimes strangers find PWD and call the police. Other times, PWD seek shelter in a shed, forest or desert and aren't found alive. Everyone wants to live in their own home until they die. Not everyone gets their own choice.
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Reply to jjariz
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DecriminalizeD, couple months ago in our metro area, a gentlemen when out for his daily walk and never made it back home which was very unusual for him. Authorities searched for almost a week. He eventually was found, but it was freezing cold at night, and with him out in the elements, sadly he didn't survive.

What would be great if there was a neighbor who likes to walk could go with your Dad. Walking is so very good for his health, I would hate for your Dad to stop doing this.

Heavens, Albert Einstein use to walk to town and would get lost walking back home. The area he lived, the police were familiar with this, so they would drive him home :)

As jjariz mentioned above, a lot of people rather die at home, but there comes a time when it isn't practical. If your folks could budget for Independent Apartment plus have a caregiver if your Mom still needs one..... if the complex is on many acres, your Dad would walk all day long within the gated community.
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Reply to freqflyer
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It's unfortunate that APS couldn't have handled the situation more gently and compassionately. And it's also unfortunate that the caregiving agency is using what is generally good advice to force you to hire 2 more caregivers, apparently at your own cost.

Some random thoughts on helping him continue to walk:

Contact local walking clubs and see if any have routes in your area; perhaps he could join one; at least he wouldn't be alone.

Ask the same question of your local senior center; sometimes they have volunteers who can help in various ways. If not, perhaps the staff would be interested in starting a walking program? There may be liability issues, but I've found that senior centers in upscale areas are much more flexible and have better outreach programs than in smaller, mediocre cities (like mine, which seems to offer more casino trips than anything more useful or practical).

Are either of your parents Veterans? There is a volunteer program through the VA, but I don't recall specifically what it offers other than pet therapy. I believe it varies by area.

I don't know whether the caregiving agency can force you to hire 2 more workers. And unfortunately, these agencies typically are members of an oversight agency with standards (I only found one in Michigan that is), so I don't know whether or not an agency can in fact force you to hire 2 caregivers.

Is your mother otherwise alone at home when your father is walking? Does she need 24/7 care, so that she couldn't be alone for 1/2 hour or so?

It seems to me that hiring another caregiver for a minimum of 3 - 4 hours would benefit the agency nicely, although I do understand that these private duty outfits are liability conscious.
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Reply to GardenArtist
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By the way, "moderate cognitive loss due to aging (dementia)" is not due to aging. Moderate cognitive loss (dementia) is due to a disease process such as Alzheimer's, Lewy Body Dementia, FTD, etc. Protocol says he should have a workup by a neurologist (regardless of his age) to rule out treatable causes. With a diagnosis, you can ensure that he is not prescribed certain medications that are dangerous (or even fatal). Also there is medication avilable that will preserve his cognitive abilities for as long as possible.
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Reply to jjariz
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My girlfriends father did the same thing. Would walk their street every day. He was monitored by the police with an ankle bracelet. Just in case he forgot how to get home. Hiring another caregiver is going to cost. I like some of the other ideas.

You do realize that both your parents will need more help. They may not be able to remain in their home.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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What is the difference in your mind, DecriminalizeD, between walking and wandering? If you thought your dad was wandering, would you be more concerned?
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Reply to jeannegibbs
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The risk will become worse if your father starts to lose his grip on where it is and isn't safe to walk, is the trouble.

I like the idea of enlisting neighbours or finding him a walking group. The exercise is brilliant for him, and it would be such a pity for him to lose it.

Or, does he always go out at the roughly the same time? Would it be hugely expensive to hire a "walking caregiver" or companion for just those couple of hours?
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Reply to Countrymouse
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D... when our parents first exhibit signs of dementia , but are mostly competent, it's hard to separate what they can and cannot do; so I understand you are sort of feeling the need for hanging back. There are a lot of great suggestions here I would also throw out to you that my mom volunteered at the local hospital for a long time and all the other volunteers were seniors so if you come up with any dead ends in the other recommendations you could approach the volunteer office at local hospitals or organizations just to see if you could post a help wanted situation.. My mom had to stop volunteering because she was getting lost in the hospital ... And her volunteer job was to transport patients from one side of the hospital to the other... but at that point, she still was okay to perform her other daily activities... and the other volunteers would plan coffee meetups so that she didn't feel cut off and she was still allowed to go to any Hospital volunteer events. I realize dramatically different than your dad walking, but maybe another source of contacts. best of luck
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Reply to maggiecat18
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I expect through an abundance of caution on the part of a public-spirited member of the community, who thought "if in doubt, call" and called. The response from APS could have gone better, alas; but all the same doing that is better than the public being so afraid of interfering that they helplessly stand there and watch some poor old soul wander under a bus.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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In my local news there is a story every week about a senior who went for their usual walk and is missing. This week there are two such stories.

We had a family member who walked just to the end of the block every day, yup, she got 'lost', even on the walk she had done for a decade. Luckily someone stopped when they say her looking agitated and she was only able to remember her daughters first name and occupation. Sally was a school teacher and a call to all the local schools found her and she left work to get her mother.

Tracking devices do not stop a person from wandering into traffic, construction, a water course (a huge issue where I live, lakes, rivers, streams and ocean all close by).

Your father needs a walking companion, either provided by the care agency, or by a family, friend or community member. You do not want your father in the news.
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Reply to Tothill
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