Protocol for missing people with Alzheimer's or dementia

No alert for missing people with Alzheimer's
Posted at 10:41 PM, Sep 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-29 11:46:19-04

About 70 percent of patients with Alzheimer’s will wander at some point during the course of the disease.

"We just kind of feel that it’s our responsibility as police officers. If we have somebody who's potentially out in danger, you know, whether it's by themselves getting lost, temperatures, whatever it is. It's our responsibility as police officers to help people," said Lieutenant Joey Hoadley of the Caldwell Police Department.

He and his fellow officers do not take their duties lightly.                                                                       

Many states around the country participate in the "silver alert" program, which is designed to spread the word when endangered persons 60 or older go missing. This includes Alzheimer’s or dementia patients.

Idaho has not implemented the program. That means police departments in the Gem State have to take matters into their own hands, with some help from the Alzheimer's Association.

"We do work with all of the law enforcement agencies around the state to try and train them on how to work with Alzheimer’s patients. You know, if they find someone who is missing, how to communicate with that person," said MacKenzie Rodgers, the executive director of the Boise Alzheimer’s Association.

Time is a crucial factor, and Lieutenant Hoadley says the department uses many different resources to locate a missing person quickly -- whether it is manpower, getting help from other departments or technology.

"We make use of social media. We can get word out about a missing person through social media to thousands and thousands of people, you know, almost immediately," said Lieutenant Hoadley.

While many police departments do not have set policies regarding how officers deal with missing Alzheimer’s or dementia patients, the lieutenant says Caldwell officers empathize with the families of those missing patients.

"I know for a fact for Caldwell Police Department, we do take them very seriously. Like I said, that's somebody's family member. That's somebody's mother or father you know. So it hits really close to home, right? So we have members of the police department who have family members with this same dementia or Alzheimer’s so it's something we understand and it's very relevant to all of us," said Lieutenant Hoadley .