Wandering and Dementia – What to do when a family member gets lost

Follow these steps if a person with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia drives or wanders away:
• Try to remain calm
• Thoroughly search the house and surrounding area (yard, garage, storage buildings)

If not found within 5 minutes:
• Contact your local police or sheriff department.
1) Tell them the person has dementia
2) Ask them about issuing a “Silver Alert”* (see below)
3) Give them a physical description including distinguishable features
4) Describe what the person was wearing
5) Explain where and when the person was last seen or heard
6) Provide a list of any medical problems or medications the person may need
7) Name places that the person might be trying to go
8) Provide names and contact details of family members and friends.
9) Have a recent photograph available

• Notify your neighbors that the person is missing
• Make sure that someone stays at home in case the person comes home and so that the telephone can be answered


In March 2009, a Memorandum of Understanding by the Arkansas State Police, Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association and Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police created the Arkansas Silver Alert Program. Even though there was no legislation establishing the program, the MOU provides law enforcement with a protocol to follow when an adult (age 18 and above) is missing.

The Alert is issued by the State Police at the request of a local sheriff or police chief if the missing person has a documented metal illness, injury or condition that causes the him or her to be incapable of making personal care decisions; or in cases where a caregiver or family member states that the person has some form of dementia. The State Police will electronically forward information to broadcast stations and newsrooms.

Distributed By:
Alzheimer’s Arkansas Programs and Services
201 Markham Center Drive ~ Little Rock, AR 72205
501-224-0021 or (outside Pulaski County) 800-689-6090
FAX 501-227-6303
Web Site: http://www.alzark.org


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