The Problem of Wandering and Becoming Lost . . . and What We’re Doing About It

Lost and Found: A Review of Available Methods and Technologies to Aid Law Enforcement in Locating Missing Adults with Dementia

A Report by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America June 2012

Executive Summary

Throughout the United States, rarely does a day go by that there is not one or more than one media report of a person with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia who has gone missing.

As the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease continues to increase, it follows that this behavior will rise accordingly—putting more and more of our nation’s vulnerable population at risk of injury or death if not located quickly.

Every person with dementia who can walk as well as those who continue to drive are at risk of becoming lost. Beyond directly impacting the person with dementia, this behavior poses widespread implications for other sectors, especially family caregivers, healthcare professionals and law enforcement.

Increasing attention is being focused on the fact that behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, including wandering and missing incidents, are a major source of caregiver burnout. As well, for law enforcement, this is a serious and costly public safety problem that will only worsen as the disease invades more lives.

Strategies are available to cope with—and curb—this potential crisis, as outlined in this report: Educating caregivers and the public about this behavior, including having law enforcement play a leading role in this effort, can help ensure that a person with dementia can be rapidly identified.

Programs that alert the public that a senior or disabled adult has gone missing, much like for children, can increase the chances that a Good Samaritan will promptly locate and assist in returning the individual to safety.

Emerging technology—whether utilizing radio signals, global positioning satellites or cellular triangulation, or a combination of these technologies—can assist in search and rescue by pinpointing the location of a person outfitted with one of these active tracking systems. Raising awareness of this behavior and disseminating information about available strategies hold the promise of ultimately saving costs and, moreover, lives.

Get the free report  here: