Memory loss is one of the symptoms of dementia. So is wandering. Over the last five years, at least 10 people in Washington state have died after wandering away from where they live. It’s a problem that communities will have to confront as the population ages. But not all police departments are prepared for these kinds of incidents.
There are different challenges when searching for people with dementia than for other missing person cases. Certain kinds of information play a key role, too. For example, when an elderly person is reported missing medical information is critical; it can mean the difference between life and death.
When people have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, they are at risk for wandering. What that really means is they get lost. For an elderly person, that can sometimes lead to death. In Washington in the last five years, at least 10 people with some form of dementia have died after getting lost.
As the human lifespan increases, families are putting more time and effort into caring for their aging parents and grandparents. By 2008, it was estimated that the average woman could expect to spend more years caring for an older family member than for her own children.
But providing in-home care doesn't work for everyone. For many families, finding the right nursing home or assisted-living arrangement is crucial. Ross Reynolds talks about the issues surrounding elderly care with Wendy Lustbader, a professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Washington.