Every year, Myrna and Bob spend five months at their home in Florida, during the cold Canadian winter. Myrna, 78, lives with Alzheimer’s disease and Bob, her husband of 56 years, is her primary caregiver.
It was one sunny afternoon in Florida last November, they visited a nearby mall. When Myrna wanted to go into one of the stores that she liked, Bob offered to wait outside. Almost an hour later, he realized she had yet to return. It turns out, while Bob waited by one door, Myrna had walked out another and when she couldn’t find him, tried to walk towards home alone.
“I’ve been in a lot of situations in my life but I’ve never had a scare like that before,” says Bob, adding that he served in the military for 34 years. “It was a scary, scary ordeal.”
While Bob and mall security searched for her, Myrna walked until she grew tired. Finally, she went into a local bank for help because by then, she couldn’t remember where she lived.
Luckily, one of the bank employees noticed her blue MedicAlert ID bracelet.
The blue MedicAlert IDs identify those that are part of the MedicAlert Safety Home® program, a nationwide partnership with Alzheimer Society of Canada specifically for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. People living with dementia can become disoriented even in familiar places. When called, the MedicAlert 24/7 emergency hotline representatives immediately contact family members and caregivers to let them know the situation and location of their loved one.
“The bank employee later told me that he was going to call the police but then saw that she was wearing the MedicAlert bracelet and knew that she must be wearing it for a reason so he called the number on it,” recalls Bob. “I tell you, that phone number is magic.”
Myrna had only first subscribed to MedicAlert weeks before leaving for Florida after she wandered from their home in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. In that incident, she left the house on her own in the early morning hours while Bob slept. A neighbour found her and called police who brought her home before Bob had even woken up. Staff at the Alzheimer’s Society in Nova Scotia, where they both go for support, advised them of the benefits of being part of the MedicAlert Safely Home® program.
“She’ll never take it off. Now whenever I hear of someone who has Alzheimer’s or other dementia, I always tell them to get MedicAlert.”
When asked what Bob would like to share with other families in a similar situation, he says, “As a caregiver, you can’t be afraid to ask for and get help. And we’ve proven just how important MedicAlert is after having it for just a few months.”
Thank you, Bob and Myrna for sharing your MedicAlert story with us! Are you a MedicAlert subscriber and would like to share your story? We would love to hear from you! Share your story at medicalert.ca/community.