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dementia, driving, deaths

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Objectives: To determine the circumstances under which persons with dementia become lost while driving, how missing drivers are found, and how Silver Alert notifications are instrumental in those discoveries.

Design: A retrospective, descriptive study.

Setting: Retrospective record review.

Participants: Conducted using 156 records from the Florida Silver Alert program for October 2008 through May 2010. These alerts were issued in Florida for missing drivers with dementia.

Measurements: Information derived from the reports on characteristics of the missing driver, antecedents to missing event, and discovery of a missing driver.

Results: The majority of missing drivers were men aged 58 to 94 who were being cared for by a spouse. Most drivers became lost on routine, caregiver-sanctioned trips to usual locations. Only 15% were driving when found, with most being found in or near a parked car. Law enforcement officers found the large majority. Only 40% were found in the county where they went missing, and 10% were found in a different state.

Conclusion: Silver Alert notifications were most effective for law enforcement; citizen alerts resulted in a few discoveries. There was 5% mortality in the study population, with those living alone more likely to be found dead than alive. An additional 15% were found in dangerous situations such as stopped on railroad tracks. Thirty-two percent had documented driving or other dangerous errors, such as driving the wrong way or into secluded areas or walking in or near roadways.

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Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, v. 60, issue 11, p. 2063-2069

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: J Am Geriatr Soc 60:2063–2069, 2012, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.

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