Wandering Remains A Growing Concern For Citizens With Dementia

MD State Police
November 9, 2017 (PIKESVILLE, Md.)

With more and more people caring for a family member with some form of dementia, the risk of that person wandering off is becoming more prevalent.

So far in 2017, Maryland has issued 69 Silver Alerts. Of those, one person died and another was hospitalized after a motor vehicle collision. In 2015, Maryland issued 87 Silver Alerts and three of those were hospitalized after a motor vehicle collision. In 2016, Maryland issued 84 Silver Alerts, and of those, one person died and three were hospitalized after a motor vehicle collision.

Maryland is one of at least 36 states with a similar alert system, which is designed to alert public safety agencies and the general public in instances of an adult, suffering certain cognitive impairments, who has been reported missing.

Only law enforcement agencies may request a Silver Alert, which was created in Maryland in 2009. Law enforcement agencies making such requests must first determine the following:

– The missing person is at least 60 years of age, AND
– The missing person suffers a cognitive impairment, including a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, AND
– The missing person’s disappearance poses a credible threat to the health and safety of the individual, AND
– The missing person is traveling in a vehicle and there is enough descriptive information about the missing person and the vehicle for law enforcement to issue an alert, AND
– The investigating agency has already activated a local or regional alert by contacting media outlets in their jurisdiction, AND
– The missing person has been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC)​

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, six in 10 people with dementia will wonder. Some tips to prevent wandering include:

– Develop a routine for daily activities to provide structure
– Identify times wandering in most likely to occur
– Reassure the person if they feel lost, abandoned or disorientated.
– Ensure all basic needs are met
– Avoid busy places that are confusing and can cause disorientation
– Place locks out of the line of sight
– Use devices that signal when a door or window is opened
– Provide supervision
– Keep car keys out of sight

For more information on Silver Alerts in Maryland, click mdsp.maryland.gov/Organization/Pages/CriminalInvestigationBureau/CriminalEnforcementDivision/SilverAlert.aspx.

For more information on caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, click www.alz.org.

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