Maryland State Police Say Wandering Remains a Growing Concern fo - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Maryland State Police Say Wandering Remains a Growing Concern for People with Dementia

Posted: Feb 19, 2018 12:01 PM Updated:

SALISBURY, Md. - It's a nightmare many caregivers with Alzheimer's and other dementia know too well: their loved one disappearing out of the blue and leaving the house with no recollection of where they're headed or what they're doing.

According to the Maryland State Police, wandering remains a growing concern with people with dementia.

The state police reported 81 silver alerts in 2017. That number was steady with the 84 silver alerts issued in 2016.

Maryland's Silver Alert Program is a way to notify the public about adults 60 and older who suffer from cognitive impairments and have been reported missing.

Five years ago, Jeff Gilmore moved all the way to Salisbury from Kentucky to take care of his 79-year-old mother, who was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia back in 2014. 

It's a type of dementia that leads to loss of function in the front part of the brain and causes a shift in personality and behavior.

"Sometimes, she'll just work herself up so quickly that she'll start wailing and it's happened before. Sometimes for a long time It might go for over half-an-hour. And my mom was very -- she was a  nurse. She was very composed. Very intelligent, and this is just basically the exact opposite of how she used to be," said Gilmore.

Last summer, Jeff's mother wandered three blocks in the middle of the night.

She was returned home by the police.

"I don't know why it happened. At that point, she wasn't agitated or anything," said Gilmore. 

Carol Zimmerman with the Eastern Shore Alzheimer's Association said it's important for families dealing with the disease to have the support they need.

That's why the organization offers several programs and resources to support caregivers, including bracelets that will help law enforcement locate someone who's wandered.

"So if a person with Alzheimer's is found wandering, the caregiver can call 911 and alert them. No matter where they are in the country, we'll be able to track them down and safely return them," said Zimmerman. 

However, Zimmerman said providing that support isn't always easy. That's because she said more and more patients are staying home until their end of life.

"Currently about 25 percent of people stay in their home, which means as that increases, the effect and impact of wandering will increase," said Zimmerman.  

The Alzheimer's Association offers a 24/7 hotline that provides support and other resources for caregivers. That number 1-800-272-3900. 

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