Preventing “Silver Alerts”

denise_vantassellAuthor: Denise Van Tassell
RN, BS, LNHA, CALA, COO/Partner
Alcoeur Gardens

I was driving down Rt. 37 in Toms River the other day and a “Silver Alert” was being broadcast on a digital billboard. My heart felt sad. I know all too well the challenges that families face when loved ones have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. I prayed for the person’s safe return and I prayed that the family would remain strong throughout their ordeal.

Having a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s is one of the most difficult challenges a family can face. It’s never easy to accept the prognosis and it is always difficult to reconcile your feelings, especially in the earlier stages when physical health hasn’t been impacted. You are frightened beyond belief, yet you are nowhere near being a coward. In fact, the opposite is true. You demonstrate a strength, determination and resilience that is practically super human. You are willing to give your all to care for your loved one and no sacrifice is too much.

I applaud your efforts and completely understand your commitment to your loved one. but I also implore you to reassess your situation. Dementia and Alzheimer’s present a host of behavioral and cognitive challenges. And while you may feel you have everything under control, you may be just one step away from a “Silver Alert”. When it comes to juggling work, family responsibilities and care for a loved one with a memory disorder, the odds are stacked against you. Despite the most heroic efforts and greatest sacrifices, the reality of the situation is that the complex and unpredictable nature of these disorders make it very difficult to manage. I should know – I have dedicated my entire professional life to caring for those who suffer from these conditions.

Even if you have extensive training and experience, the safety and security of a person with a memory disorder is at risk if not in the proper environment. Most homes are not equipped with the safeguards in place at a facility designed for memory impaired patients. Even with your best intentions, you most likely cannot give the level of care and attention that a medically trained professional can give. What generally happens is that you work your fingers to the bone, get by on very little sleep and both you and your loved one get frustrated. At best, the health and well being of both of you are compromised and at worst, you find yourself in a “Silver Alert” situation. There can be no worse feeling than that.

Please, for your loved one’s safety and y our peace of mind, please find a facility that is equipped to handle the specials needs of your loved one. Let’s all work together to prevent “Silver Alerts”!

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