See how OnStar can help if you are a caregiver to someone living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia
It was Thanksgiving Day in 2017 when Kansas City, Missouri, resident Jeana Holloman Walz and her family were sitting at the table waiting for her parents to arrive. “They were four hours late and weren’t answering their phones,” Jeana remembers. “We called the police to let them know we had been expecting them and they hadn’t shown, which wasn’t common for them.”
The police asked if Jeana’s parents had OnStar* in their vehicle and, luckily, they did. Jeana’s father had purchased a new Chevrolet Silverado truck in 2016, and his OnStar plan was still active.
An OnStar Advisor was able to locate their vehicle and requested police be sent to their location. The police stayed with Jeana’s parents until she and her family could meet them.
Caring for a Person Living with Alzheimer’s
OnStar and the Alzheimer’s Association offer tips for caregivers.
Late again for holiday dinner
Easter day in 2018 it happened again. Jeana’s parents were expected to meet a caravan of family members to road trip together to the holiday dinner. Once again, they were late.
“Because we had such a good previous experience with OnStar, I ended up calling again,” Jeana says. “Since my parents weren’t answering their phones, OnStar was able to connect to my dad and ask him if it was OK that they connected us all on the phone together.”
Jeana’s dad gave OnStar permission to loop Jeana into the conversation, and she was then able to figure out where he was located.
Shortly after that incident, Jeana’s mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and her father was diagnosed with dementia.
Unfortunately, Jeana’s experience with her parents is not uncommon. Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia can cause disorientation, which can lead to the person with dementia wandering and becoming lost. In fact, six in 10 people living with dementia will wander at least once, and many do so repeatedly. Having a loved one become lost traveling to a familiar place, whether by car or by foot, is sometimes the first early warning sign of Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
Although both of her parents passed away in 2021, Jeana reflects on the good times they shared together and is appreciative that OnStar was able to help her parents.
“I’m just so grateful because I don’t know what we would have done without their help,” she says. “We had no idea where they were or how to find them since they weren’t answering their phones.”
OnStar encourages families to learn the early signs of Alzheimer’s, including:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgement
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood or personality
Currently, 55 million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and the fifth-leading cause of death for adults ages 65 and older in the United States, so chances are you know someone or have a family member who has been impacted by this disease.
Added peace of mind from Guardian
The OnStar Guardian app®* is an easy, reliable way to stay up to date on your loved ones’ whereabouts. In the case of someone living with dementia, it can be a valuable tool in locating them quickly if they wander away. Simply download the app on your smartphone to get started.