What to do When Your Loved One Wanders

Parents the world over have most likely experienced this feeling at one time or another: You’re in the grocery store or a department store with your young child and look away for only a second. One minute they were there, the next they were nowhere to be found. Perhaps after several seconds of panic, you found them, or maybe you had to enlist the help of store security or managers. Either way, it’s a very frightening experience, and one that every parent dreads. As scary as it is to lose track of a child, it can be just as scary when it happens to an older loved one, especially if that loved one suffers from something like Alzheimer’s. So, if this happens and they go missing, what can you do?

The fact is that around 6 out of 10 Alzheimer’s patients will move aimlessly or try to leave the immediate area. This can cause confusion due to memory loss and physical disabilities associated with Alzheimer’s. Let’s take a look at some things that you can do if this happens to your loved one:

  • Use Technology:

There are a lot of great technologies that can help both you and law enforcement in locating your loved one. Such things include Medical ID bracelets that can help Good Samaritans to better help your family member or friend, phone alert technology that alerts those in a community about a missing person, as well as track systems that make use of satellite or cell technology to locate a missing person.

  • Begin search and rescue efforts at once:

Around 94% of people that have wandered off are often found close to their homes or wherever they went missing from, so focus any early search efforts in that particular area.

  • Have identifying information:

Be sure to keep a recent photo and medical information on-hand in order to give to law enforcement or other volunteer searchers.

  • Ask neighbors and friends for help:

People with Alzheimer’s often struggle in identifying themselves, so it’s important to have as many people as possible to help in the search who know what your loved one looks like and can identify him or her.

  • Find familiar places:

A loved one might go to the places they know, like old homes, favorite restaurants, or places of worship. If any such places are close by the area, they’re likely a good place to look first or to talk about with police and law enforcement.

  • Follow the hand:

Those with Alzheimer’s often head off in the direction of their dominant hand, so it’s a good idea to start looking in that particular direction first.

While it can be a frightening time when a loved one has wandered off, following these steps can better help you to be able to organize searches and know what to do in case just such a scenario should happen. While it can be easier said than done, it is important to remain calm so you can focus on finding them.