By Callie Jackson 
According to the Ontario Alzheimer Society, each year 25,000 Canadians are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia and it’s estimated more than 4,000 people are living with dementia in the Hastings and Prince Edward County.
Darlene Jackson is the education support co-ordinator at the Hastings and Prince Edward County Alzheimer Society and says six out of 10 people who have dementia are at risk of wandering off.
“The Finding Your Way is a program developed to help educate and raise awareness of the risk of people who have dementia and can go missing. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when,” she says.
Finding Your Way helps educate professionals who work with people with dementia and members of the public and giving information that covers all aspects of keeping people with dementia safe.
“Finding your Way is a tool box of information for tips and strategies to keep people safe, to keep yourself safe if you have dementia, and awareness for the public and for professionals to know what to look for if someone might be lost,” says Jackson.
The Finding Your Way program offers one-hour seminars for professionals in the field and for the general public to inform them on how to help a person with dementia if they are lost.
“Our job is to help minimize the effects of dementia, on the person with dementia as well as their caregivers and their loved ones, as well the public,” she said.
The program’s safety kit has also been introduced to help families create a personalized safety plan.
The kit includes photo identification, a physical description of the person, at-home safety steps to prevent missing persons incidents, and tips on what to do when a person goes missing.
Jamie Potter, a Loyalist College graduate, is a caregiver for a person with dementia and says the Finding Your Way program is beneficial for everyone.
“I think everyone should have to participate, because almost everyone is affected by dementia one way or another,” she said.
Potter has been a caregiver for three years and says she’s interested in participating in a seminar.
“I think it would help us have a better understanding of how to deal with a person with dementia. I think everyone needs that because it’s difficult to understand what’s someone going through when their brain goes through the change like that,” she said.
The next Finding Your Way public information sessions will be held at the Alzheimer Society’s office at 470 Dundas St. E. from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. this Tuesday and on Wednesday, Feb. 8.
To register for a seminar or for details contact Darlene Jackson or call 613-962-0892. You can also complete a one-hour learning session online or download the Finding Your Way ID kit.
For more information click on the Ontario Alzheimer Society’s website link here.