What to do if a loved one with dementia goes missing

Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 11:14 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Six out of every ten people with dementia wander at least once, and many do it more than just that first time.

Mandy Haley never had to get law enforcement involved when her late husband Fred would wander off, but she remembers one time he did get lost.

“You would see things on the news about people wandering around and you’d think oh this isn’t going to happen to me. I’m not going to experience this, but then when it does oh the horror of not knowing where they might be,” she said.

While stopping someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s from ever wandering is highly unlikely, there are behaviors families can look out for.

“If you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia look out for restless behavior. Returning from a walk or a drive later than expected if they’re still driving, as well as talking about going home even when they’re home,” explained Beth Sulkowski, with the SC Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Sulkowski says some ways to prepare your home are to put a black rug by the front door or store car keys somewhere out of sight among other methods.

But if that loved one does go missing for more than just a few minutes that’s when law enforcement steps in.

This year, more than a dozen people over the age of 60 have been reported missing to the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.

“If they have any sort of medical history or medical concerns it’s automatically an endangered response,” said Anderson County Sheriff’s Office PIO Shale Remien.

The biggest help families can give those deputies and detectives searching for their loved one is as much information as possible. Like what they were last seen wearing, where they like to visit, what they have been talking about the last couple of days and more.

“That information, it might seem small to you but it could be very big as far as where they might be,” said Remien.

For more information on wandering, click here.