Taking steps to protect loved ones with Alzheimer's

By Courtney Lane - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - The search for an East Texas Alzheimer's patient has ended after her body was found in another state. 69-year old Annette, or Anne Newsom, was discovered dead in Shreveport Monday night. Her body was found inside a truck in a wooded area, around eight o'clock by some nearby residents. Shreveport police say they do not suspect foul play.

Anne had been missing for five days from the East Texas area and suffered from severe Alzheimer's Disease. An estimated 20,000 East Texans suffer from this debilitating disease. As doctors say, all it takes is one quick moment for tragedies to happen. There are steps you can take right now to protect your loved ones.

If you haven't already known someone with the deteriorating disease, chances are you will.

"There is a tsunami of Alzheimer's coming," said Jamie Huff, with the Alzheimer's Alliance of Smith County.

One of the biggest dangers is that most patients wander away.

"Because they're confused and they think that they're in their younger years and they may want to visit their friend who used to live down the road," explained Huff.

But, the Alzheimer's Alliance of Smith County says there is hope. One thing they say that has saved lives are tracking devices.

"The Tyler PD and the Smith County sheriff's office they have the tracking equipment and they're trained to search," said Huff. "And, versus a loved one going missing for hours [or] days if ever being found, nationally the statistic is a person who is wearing a project lifesaver bracelet they are found on an average of 23 minutes, and so it drastically increases their survival rate."

Therapist Toni Dowdy says there's also simple things you can do to ensure your loved ones' safety.

"If they think they need to carry keys around, then give them a different set of keys," said Dowdy. "You can't reason with them so you talk to them in a quiet manner."

"They can put locks on the doors that are high on the door where the person could not reach them," suggested Huff. "Sometimes they can put black colored mats in front of the doors because spatially and perceptually it may seem like a hole."

They say the important thing is to get educated on the disease, and don't brush it off if you start seeing warning signs.

"Forgetting familiar faces, forgetting familiar places," said Dowdy. "Those are the first signs and should not be ignored. They need an evaluation done."

Since caring for an Alzheimer's patient takes work around the clock, Doctors say sometimes it's best to move them into a care facility. That's a decision, of course, your family should make together.

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