Cases of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients wandering from their home or care facilities is increasing, according to advocates and law enforcement.
In the last two weeks, at least five patients have been reported missing. One Seattle man was found dead in Southern Oregon, an elderly couple was found safe in Everett but two other men are still unaccounted for.
“It’s clinically fascinating, but it’s terrifying if you have a loved one that’s gone missing,” said Bob LeRoy, President of the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
LeRoy pointed out more than 150,000 people in Washington have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Six in 10, LeRoy said, will wander away at some point.
“I think there’s room for additional training on what to look for with the people they love and they serve,” said LeRoy.
According to King and Snohomish County Sheriff Departments, more than a dozen Alzheimer’s and dementia patients have been reported missing in 2012.
Washington’s Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday it does not have statistics on wandering or “elopement” cases from state-licensed facilities.
Advocates suggest bracelets or GPS devices are good ways to make sure those with dementia do not get lost.
“It says memory impared,” explained Alzheimer’s patient Myriam Marquez as she showed her own bracelet, “My name is Myriam. It has a phone number to call.”
Marquez was diagnosed three years ago after noticing her memory was slipping. Doctors found she had a genetic form of the disease. While she is still in the early stages, she did not hesitate to make sure her family and potential caregivers could find her in the future.
“There is a possibility that I’m walking with my dog and all of a sudden, I don’t know where I am,” said Marquez.