In the news recently is a happy ending for Geraldine Sullivan, a resident of California who was reported missing and was found to be safe in Las Vegas, NV on Saturday.
Ms. Sullivan is an 80 year old woman who reportedly has dementia. She was to attend her high school reunion this past weekend, but never showed up at the gathering. Apparently she was unable to find the hotel, so she drove home and decided the weekend shouldn’t be wasted; she booked a flight to Las Vegas to have a good time.
Do you have a family member or close friend who suffers from dementia? Surely you are concerned about safety. What will you do to keep your loved one safe when he or she takes a notion to walk to their childhood home, to go back to a job he or she hasn’t had for a decade, to search for a pet who has been deceased for 20 years?
Experts sympathize with the enormity of this task. Laura N. Gitlin, professor of community public health and director for the Center for Innovative Care in Aging at Johns Hopkins University states, “You are on on your own to figure out what is needed and how to put a plan together in a meaningful way. It is a huge challenge.”
No doubt you agree with professor Gitlin. Happily, there is a wonderful resource available beginning in the month of October: a free online course conducted by Nancy Hodgson, PhD, RN and Laura Gitlin, PhD of Johns Hopkins University. The course is 5 weeks long and requires 3-5 hours of study per week. It provides an overview of Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias and the impact on quality-of-life issues for individuals with dementia and their families.
In this ever-growing challenge of dementia care, families and friends need all the education and support they can find. We hope the links provided will be helpful for you as you continue in your journey of providing excellent care.