Alzheimer’s patients keep going missing. Experts advise families on how to prevent it.

Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 6:34 PM CDT
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HINDS COUNTY, Miss. (WLBT) - One Hinds County family is desperately searching for their family member with Alzheimer’s and wishing they could have done more to keep him from going missing.

A Silver Alert was issued last Monday for Morris Griffith. He was last seen walking on Dry Grove Road.

”We’re leaning on God enough to say, ‘Please bring him back, give us another chance of doing this right.’ I don’t know if we’re gonna get that chance,” Morris’ son-in-law, Victor Crusan, said.

His family is now feeling fear and regret.

“He did towards the last two years become a little bit disoriented with where he was around this property,” Crusan explained.

According to the son-in-law, Griffith took walks every day around his home, but would always find his way back - until last Monday night.

Alzheimer Association Member, Teri Roddy, said wandering is a common and dangerous symptom of the disease.

“When you first start noticing it takes them a little bit longer to take a walk, a little bit longer to get home from a place that they’re familiar with, there could be some wandering happening. And that’s why it takes them longer to get home,” Roddy explained.

Crusan said his family tried to take measures to protect Griffith in the beginning by putting an Apple AirTag in his wallet to keep track of him, but that didn’t last long before it was taken out.

Roddy said there are a few other things families can do to help keep a loved one from going missing, including:

  1. Letting neighbors know you have a loved one with dementia so if they see the wandering, they can contact you immediately.
  2. Install some type of alarm or sound chimes at doors to alert others when someone is leaving the home.
  3. Place a two-foot square of black tape around the exit of a door. Roddy said it almost acts like a hole and some Alzheimer’s patients won’t cross it to get to that door.
  4. Consider an Alzheimer’s care facility or in-home nurse that can offer round the clock care.

Roddy said the two most important things for families to remember is to immediately call 9-1-1 if your loved one with dementia goes missing and to not blame yourself.

“You can’t help but start blaming yourself, you know? Because you didn’t do something more. And that’s the hardest part,” Crusan said.

“It’s difficult to navigate the waters and you immediately go to blame yourself. You are not to blame. It’s a disease,” Roddy said.

For more information about Alzheimer’s or have questions, visit alz.org or call 800-272-3900.

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