On the return, I was traveling back from Mumbai to Vadodara on a flight that was leaving shortly after his, so we met at the airport, where he was brought by a cousin. We spent some time together, I was planning to ensure he boarded comfortably, then, as luck would have it, his flight was delayed by an hour, and mine was now leaving first. I still remember being worried, pointing out to him where his flight would leave from, where the announcement would be made, and repeating the instructions before boarding my flight.
Daddy got back to Ahmedabad and reached home fine. But it was years later, years after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a few years after he passed away, and only after I left my job and devoted time to learning about Alzheimer’s and dementia, that the enormity and the risk of the situation hit me. Anything, anything, could have happened. That could have been the last time I saw my father. He could have just wandered out of the airport, he could have disembarked from the train mid journey! If I had known, I would have taken measures, ensured he travelled with an attendant, but in the absence of diagnosis and a lack of understanding of the disease, we were unaware of the huge risk.
Awareness is the first line of action in the battle against dementia, and I am a foot soldier in that fight.
Wandering can happen at any stage in a person with dementia who is able to walk. Read more about it in the Help Sheet on Wandering