Here’s a shocking statistic we just found on MSNBC: 60% of Alzheimer’s patients wander away from their homes or care facilities at some point. Half of those who aren’t found within 24 hours end up severely injured or dead. Here’s another shocker: By the year 2050, there will be 16 million adults with Alzheimer’s in the U.S. alone. Which means 3 million mothers, fathers, siblings, neighbors, grandparents, and friends could go missing.
According to MSNBC, it’s actually harder to find a missing senior citizen than a missing child. Why? Because when a child’s all alone, it seems odd, so passersby pay attention. However, adults with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or schizophrenia often look normal, and may simply be overlooked. Edward Rochford, the sheriff of Morris County, New Jersey, says that even with 50 rescue workers searching, it can take more than eight hours to find a missing person. Which is way too long for a senior citizen who may be frail, disoriented, or need medication. That’s why two new programs are being tested to quickly locate seniors who wander off:
- First, there’s the Silver Alert system. It’s similar to an Amber Alert and sends out media bulletins, and posts “keep an eye out for” notices on highway signs when a senior citizen is reported missing. The result: When Silver Alerts were issued in Texas and North Carolina, 90% of the missing seniors were found alive. To sign up, go to NationalSilverAlert.org.
- Another program designed to quickly find lost senior citizens is Project Lifesaver. Basically, it allows a caretaker to affix an electronic bracelet to a loved one and if the senior citizen wanders off, the bracelet can be activated like a personal Lo-Jack. One or two police officers can usually track them down in a matter of minutes. A transmitter bracelet costs about $285, plus a monthly fee. So far, they've located nearly 2,300 lost people. Go to ProjectLifesaver.org.