Persons With Dementia Who Become Lost in the Community: A Case Study, Current Research and Recommendations

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Providing care for persons with dementia presents several serious challenges. Among these is the possibility that a person with dementia will become lost in the community and face the risk of injury or death. Caregivers often cite anxiety about this possibility as a reason for placing their loved ones in a professional-care setting. Our case study and review of research show that all persons with dementia are at risk, regardless of age, past behavior, and sex. Thus, health care providers have an important role to play in educating caregivers about this risk and assisting them in preventing or responding to such situations. In addition, health care providers should ensure that their respective professional-care facilities have appropriate measures in place to prevent and respond to these eventualities. Finally, health care providers can educate local law enforcement personnel about dementia in general and more specifically about research-based strategies for searching for persons with dementia who have become lost in the community.

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Mayo Clinic Proceedings, v. 79, issue 11, p. 1417-1422