This situation is one that many will encounter, and everyone needs to know the answer. Sixty-seven percent of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia will wander. You can’t know when it will happen, but you need to know what to do when it does. It is common for a person with dementia to wander and become lost; many do repeatedly. Wandering can be dangerous – even life-threatening.
The Alzheimer’s Association MedicAlert/Safe Return Program is a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for individuals with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia who wander or have a medical emergency. If an individual wanders and becomes lost, caregivers can call the emergency response line to report it.
A community support network will be activated, including the local association and law enforcement agencies, to help reunite the family member or caregiver with the person who wandered. If a citizen or emergency personnel finds the member, they can call the toll-free number listed on the member’s ID jewelry.
The answer to Mr. Lorah’s question is to call local law enforcement and then the Alzheimer’s Association MedicAlert/Safe Return. If you are a neighbor and know the family, please tell them about the Alzheimer’s Association. Our toll-free number is (800) 272-3900, and we are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
(The writer is program and services director of the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter, Augusta Region.)