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Alzheimer's Risk Factors: What To Do When a Loved One Goes Missing

By Michelle Cemental

Wandering is one of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and it is one of the biggest Alzheimer's risk factors a caregiver may have to deal with one time or another. 5.3 million Americans are diagnosed with this disease and statistics show that over 50% of those diagnosed will wander. Here are some tips if a family member with Alzheimer's or dementia goes missing. 

Initial Steps

  1. Begin by performing an immediate search of the area; studies show that those who wander are usually found within half a mile from where they were last seen. If you don't have success within about 5 minutes, proceed to the next step.

  2. Call 911 and file a missing persons report.

  3. Call Safe Return: 1-800-625-3780. It's a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for individuals with Alzheimer's or a related dementia who wander or have a medical emergency. 

  4. Contact family or friends to stay with you. Stay calm, and follow instructions from police and Safe Return. 

  5. Stay where you are. Have others continue searching on your behalf and keep phone lines open so that you can be easily contacted.

Additional Resources

Ultimately, it is important to remember that the best defense is a great offense. A proactive approach towards prevention of wandering should be taken to ensure peace of mind. Listed below are some of the new tools and technologies available today:

  • National Silver Alert Program: a national program that alerts the media and law enforcement 

  • Medic Alert and Safe Return Program: a national program that activates a support network locally and nationally including law enforcement. 

  • Project Lifesaver International: provides clients with a personalized wristband that emits a tracking signal with recovery times averaging less than 30 minutes. 

  • Aertex GPS Footwear: GPS (Global Positioning System) embedded in the shoes sends an immediate alert with a Google map that plots their location to the Smart phone or computer of the caregiver if they wander off more than a pre-set distance. 

  • LifeBeacon GPS Watch: The LifeBeacon GPS Watch is a mobile medical alert monitoring system that enables 24-hour EMT monitoring through manual connection and alerts to the SafetyCare Response Center staffed around the clock by certified EMTs and can find you or a loved one virtually anywhere on the planet. 

At Caring Senior Service, we understand the difficulties of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's and dementia. We are always ready to assist your loved ones to keep them healthy, happy, and at home. For more tips, review our Family Caregiver's Guide to Alzheimer's & Dementia

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Michelle Cemental Blog Author

Tags: Alzheimer's & Dementia

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