Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Wandering Plea for the Winter Birder or Outdoors Person...

This post is not necessarily about birding, sightings, recent nature outings, or in fact, anything of that sort.  It is more so a reminder about something that is near and dear to my heart, something that I think a lot about, and even more so when the winter weather sets in.

Late into elementary school, my Nonno (grandfather) was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. As this disease progressed, as it unfortunately does, my Nonno was no longer able to do the things that were very normal and routine for him.  This included things as simple as walking to the bus stop, taking his usual bus to our house, going for a walk around the block, simple things that he was used to.  A few times, this led him to getting lost while trying to walk to the grocery store or visiting me across town.  I can still remember him standing for hours at our house window with his watch on the ready trying to pin point the new bus schedule. It hadn't changed in years, he just wasn't able to remember when it came anymore and this was his way of trying to.

Nonno and myself, around age 5

Myself and Nonno, at the beginning stages of Alzheimer
While, in itself seeing your loved one not able to do something so routine on their own is heart breaking, it brings in a whole new set of worries.  Six of every 10 people with Alzheimer's disease will likely wander at least once in their lifetime.  In 2016, there was an estimated 564,000 people in Canada living with some form of dementia. If 60% of these people being potential wanderers, that is a pretty large number of people and worried families. While we were relatively lucky with his becoming lost was comparitively minimal, many others haven't been so lucky.

So while you are out birding, skiing, walking along a trail, walking through the city, driving around to enjoy the Christmas lights, please keep this in the back of your mind. Keep an eye out as you go about your daily routines for anyone that may seem out of ordinary, someone who might look a little lost or confused. Take a moment and see if they need help, you just might save their life.

What are some things to look out for?

One or even a combination of these:

- Someone who may be not appropriately dressed for the weather

- Someone standing very still and looking off for long periods

- Someone always moving but pacing, appearing confused or disoriented.

The following is a fantastic article from the Toronto Star that I continue to post on my facebook page every single year.  While the stories within it are heart-wrenching, the "How to Help" tips located at the bottom of the article are a great resource to become familiar on what to look out for and what do do when approaching someone you may think is lost:

We'll be back to regular nature blogs next time, I promise!