Preventing a Silver Alert before it happens

Health Check

ROSSVILLE, Kan. (KSNT) – Martin McClelland is a caregiver in Rossville who’s had several wandering scares with his wife who has Alzheimer’s Disease.

“The very first time, I was gone for about thirty minutes to do a normal, everyday chore,” said McClelland. “I came home and the doors were locked. She didn’t come out. So I got a text from the local police saying they had found her. It was seventeen degrees out, and she had walked about 100 yards up the road.”

Silver Alerts are issued nationwide, when a person 65 years or older, or a person suffering from dementia is reported missing by family or caregivers.

“Anyone with a dementia diagnosis is at risk of wandering,” said Hayley Young, with the Alzheimer’s Association of Northeast Kansas. “Something to notice at first, is if they are talking about past obligations. Some others are if someone is getting lost or confused in crowded or different environments. Also if they’re getting lost getting to familiar places.”

Alongside awareness of your loved one’s mental state, the Alzheimer’s Association says preparation is key.

“Plan ahead and notifying family members and neighbors who are close by,” said Young. “Also preparing your home.”

Some people even use duct tape in front of door ways, to serve as a barrier. They’ve also seen alarms used to alert the caregiver if a door is opened.

There is also new technology that is also helping caregivers keep track of their loved ones.

“There are a lot of new technology in the senior wearable market,” said Young. “There is a GPS tracker on a necklace or a bracelet. Maybe you can put one in a shoe. If that person has a cell phone, a smart phone, that can also be an easy way to track them.”

The biggest piece of advice: take action immediately when a loved one goes missing.

“After 15 minutes, if you can’t find the person notify the police department. We are lucky in Topeka because the Topeka Police Department has the Take Me Home Program, where you can enroll someone who may be at risk for wandering,” said Young.

“You have to stay ahead otherwise, especially with heavy weather coming, it doesn’t take very long. It shakes you to the core, because you know something much worse could happen,” said McClelland.

Find more details of Kansas’s Silver Alert Protocol at: https://ag.ks.gov/public-safety/alerts/silver-alerts

The Alzheimer’s Association provides the following handout for advice on preventing wandering:

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