The following tips are provided by the Alzheimer’s Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. ©2013 Alzheimer’s Association, reused with permission.
The stress experienced by families and caregivers when a person with dementia wanders and becomes lost is significant. Have a plan in place beforehand, so you know what to do in case of an emergency.
- Keep a list of people to call on for help. Have telephone numbers easily accessible.
- Ask neighbors, friends and family to call if they see the person alone.
- Keep a recent, close-up photo and updated medical information on hand to give to police.
- Know your neighborhood. Pinpoint dangerous areas near the home, such as bodies of water, open stairwells, dense foliage, tunnels, bust stops and roads with heavy traffic.
- Is the individual right or left-handed? Wandering generally follows the direction of the dominant hand.
- Keep a list of places where the person may wander. This could include past jobs, former homes, places of worship or a restaurant.
- Provide the person with ID jewelry. Enroll the person in MedicAlert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return.
- Considering having the person carry or wear an electronic tracking GPS device that helps manage location. Comfort Zone and Comfort Zone Check-In are two options.
- If the person does wander, search the immediate area for no more than 15 minutes. Call “911” and report to the police that a person with Alzheimer’s disease – a “vulnerable adult” – is missing. In addition, a report should be filed with MedicAlert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return at 800.625.3780. You do not need to be enrolled in MedicAlert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return in order to file a missing report.