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Thursday, May 06, 2010

More missing persons are elderly

When police are called to search for someone, they're usually looking for a child or a teenager, but that's starting to change, the New York Times reports. Authorities are seeing more cases where elderly people, suffering from Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia, have wandered off. As society as a whole ages, it's going to be a bigger problem.

It's one reason why so many states have adopted "silver alerts," a type of Amber Alert for missing adults. I've lost count of how many missing seniors have made the news here in Kansas City.

What's interesting is that different "rules" apply to people with dementia, and that's requiring new training for police. For one thing, these missing people tend to be paranoid about authority, so they'll actively hide, whereas a missing child or hiker will sing out if they hear someone calling their name.

Wanderers often follow fence or power lines, and tend to be drawn toward water, Virginia state rescue officials said, bound on a mission that only they — and sometimes perhaps not even they — can imagine. (A search trick: try to figure what door they exited from, then concentrate first in that direction. But don’t bother calling out the person’s name, which he or she has often forgotten.)

Hat Tip: Many thanks, Keith G in PV!

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