Wandering and wondering go hand-in-hand when your parent is older and suffers from dementia. You wonder if they’re safe from moment to moment because older people with dementia tend to, well . . . wander.
Silver Alert is a system that can help in the case of a missing older person or one who has any physical or mental disability. In California, the Silver Alerts are handled by the California Highway Patrol. They have the resources to issue a Silver Alert with the message signs along the highways, messages to cell phones, and media alerts. It can save the life of your loved one if they are missing.
A Silver Alert is a public notification system in the United States to broadcast information about missing persons — especially senior citizens with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other mental disabilities — in order to aid in their being found. (Wikipedia)
Your First Line of Defense
Friends, neighbors and local police departments should all be informed if your loved one suffers from a mental handicap. It’s the safest way to keep your loved one safe. Friends who we know have given their neighbors and local police department emergency contact numbers should someone call in about an older person wandering the neighborhood. Don’t hesitate to keep everyone that could help informed that your loved one might take off and need help.
Make up a flyer that has your contact number on it and a description of your loved one. If possible have their photo on the flyer. Hand these out to everyone in your neighborhood for at least a three block radius. Our friend was so thankful she did this and her neighbors did let her know if her dad was wandering again. Sometimes her neighbors would just strike up a conversation with him and start walking him back to her house. Other times they’d call local police officers who would accompany him back home. The more people know about your loved one’s tendency to wander around, the safer they will be. Even when you’re in the same house with them, they can still slip out without you knowing it.
Make sure you have a recent photo of your loved one and send it to your city’s local police department. Having it handy can save lots of time and everyone knows that the longer a person is missing, the more dangerous it becomes. If necessary, the local police can contact the highway patrol and start the Silver Alert system in record time.
The police can send a Be on the Lookout (BOLO) once they know a person is missing. If you use a cell phone, you’ve probably received an Amber Alert by text. This can also be done for a missing older person who suffers from dementia by Silver Alert. This system allows hundreds or even thousands of people to be aware of someone who seems lost or confused and to alert local authorities.
Don’t Care-Give Alone!
This is not the time to be an island. You need people in your life who can help you when you can’t be there for your older loved one. There are adult day care services in most cities. Trustworthy teens and family members can be called on to help when you can’t be home. Respite care is available at most assisted living communities and in-home care can be provided by local companies. Always have a backup plan . . . or two . . . or three. It’s worth it to keep your peace of mind.