Keeping seniors safe from wandering

Local News

RANTOUL, Ill. (WCIA) — Earlier this week, a missing elderly woman with dementia was found hours later in the same building in which she was last seen.

A UI expert says situations like this might become more common and now is a great time to understand the risk.

87-year old Lela O’Bryan went missing and was later found. It appears she didn’t really know what happened or that she was even missing.

Raksha Mudar, a U of I associate professor in the department of Speech and Hearing Science, with the College of Applied Health Sciences, says it can happen even in the earlier stages of dementia and this case is a reminder of things caretakers should be aware of.

She says, when people with dementia stop recognizing their surroundings or how to get to familiar places, preventative measures around the home should be used.

They can include disguising doors with paint or curtains or installing signaling technology every time a door opens. Most importantly, recognize the risks early on.

She says situations like O’Bryan’s may be happening more and more often because cases of dementia are up nationwide.

There are about 220,000 people with Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia, in Illinois alone. She says those cases are expected to increase by about 18% by 2025.

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