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Dementia patients at risk of wandering from home

Six in 10 people with Alzheimer's or dementia have wandered from home.

MAINE, USA — Imagine a loved one goes missing, and that person has dementia and may not know where they're going or why.

To help find those people, Maine is one of 37 states with the SILVER Alert system.

Every person who works at the Alzheimer's Association Maine chapter has a personal connection to this debilitating disease.

"My father used to live with me, and he had Alzheimer's, and it was just me. And I was constantly worried about him getting out in the middle of the night," Amy Angelo, program director at the Maine chapter of Alzheimer's Association, said. 

Six in 10 people who have dementia have wandered away from home at some point, and experts say anyone who has Alzheimer's or dementia IS at risk of wandering off.

Angelo said people could do things to keep their loved ones safe, like installing a security system in the home. That'll allow homeowners to know if someone is trying to get out of the house. Angelo added it saved her father.

"Four in the morning, I heard bells. I thought I was dreaming, but then when I realized I jumped out of bed and ran outside, and sure enough my father was down the block," Angelo said.

Twelve years ago, state lawmakers voted to start a Silver Alert program used to find people with dementia or other cognitive impairments. 

When a Silver Alert is issued, it goes out to all state law enforcement, media, and the state lottery so they can post it at lottery retailers.

A Maine state trooper rescued an older man with Alzheimer's who wandered off just two months ago.

Angelo said if a loved one does wander away from home, call for help right away.

"Start the search and rescue efforts immediately, and call 911 if they are not found within like 15 minutes," she said.

In 2021, Maine issued 39 silver alerts, the most ever in its 12-year history.

Maine Department Of Public Safety spokeswoman Shannon Moss said every case had a positive outcome.

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