Betty and her daughter Eileen have worked side by side at their rural Ontario bakery for 30 years, singing and dancing as they knead dough and glaze cinnamon rolls.
When Betty, 81, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease seven years ago, her daughter knew the best treatment for her mom was to keep working.
“Like everyone, people with Alzheimer’s want to be productive, and boy do we have that covered,” says Eileen. Her mom cuts granola bars by the hundreds – a repetitive but necessary task at which she excels. “She’s employee of the month,” says Eileen.
Betty’s family wants her to be independent as long as possible and that extends to her daily walks. Every day for the past 30 years, she’s walked the same way to the park and back. It’s never been an issue, so Eileen never worried.
That is until the day last summer when her mom didn’t come back.
Part of Betty’s walk takes her by a community centre. That day, the centre was hosting a party and the music drew her inside. But once in the community centre, her routine was disrupted and she became confused.
Someone at the centre noticed her MedicAlert® Safely Home® bracelet and called the 1-800 number engraved on the back. The bracelet is part of a service run in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Canada in response to research showing one in six people with dementia will go missing or become lost during the course of their disease.
The number is staffed 24/7 with emergency hotline specialists who pulled up Betty’s details—including her photo, physical description, vital medical information and her daughter’s phone number. Staff then patched through the caller to Eileen.
“She said, ‘Your mother is fine. She’s at our party. Could you come get her?’” recalls Eileen.
When she arrived a few minutes later, Eileen found her mother dancing with a centre employee.
“I tapped her partner on the shoulder, took her place and danced my mom out the door,” says Eileen. “Everyone clapped.”
For more information and to sign up for MedicAlert Safely Home, visit alzheimer.ca/medicalertsafelyhome.