PEOPLE living with dementia or memory loss are the focus of a new campaign during National Missing Persons Week, which is held from August 3-9.
In Queensland, an average of 6,500 people are reported missing each year, and of those approximately 5% are 60 years and over.
Detective Senior Sergeant Damien Powell of the Missing Persons Unit said of the people reported missing almost 300 were older persons, some with dementia.
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“These persons are a high risk of wandering and becoming disorientated which places them at risk in our environment,” he said.
“This is certainly concerning for us, but is something that can be prevented.
“Thankfully the large majority of people reported missing are located quickly, however there are some cases that end tragically.
“Proactive police work and assistance from the community and family quite often lead to this quick recovery, which to us is the most important outcome.
“Of course timely reporting by police and community members staying alert and calling police have helped us recover many older people who may have just wandered away from their home.”
The Queensland Police Service is currently working with Alzheimer’s Australia to develop a special bracelet that can be worn by anyone living with dementia. Each bracelet is uniquely numbered to enable the wearer to be identified by police when they are located and can assist in reuniting them with their loved ones much quicker.
Alzheimer’s Australia (Qld) spokesperson, Kerry Cutting, said the bracelets will give peace of mind to those caring for people with dementia.
“Caring for another person is a huge responsibility, and when they go missing it can be incredibly distressing, especially if the person you’re caring for is a loved one,” she said.
“These bracelets are not only a safe guard for those who do go wandering, but a great peace of mind for those caring for someone with dementia.”
“Without a medical breakthrough the prevalence of dementia in Queensland expected to increase by 345% by 2050, so it’s a critical time to raise awareness of the terminal disease.”
The bracelets will be available through Alzheimer’s Australia (Qld) at a small cost.
Police would like to remind those with a friend or family member living with dementia to keep in constant communication with them, ensure you have current photographs in case they go missing and to consider installing a duress system to help in an emergency type situation.