Tue, Jun 11, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Association gives tips for dementia sufferers’ families

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

A large proportion of elderly people who go missing have dementia, so the Taiwan Alzheimer’s Disease Association (TADA) has established a “three don’ts and six dos” system to help family members handle a missing elder case or prevent them from disappearing, the group said yesterday.

As the nation’s elderly now account for more than 14 percent of the population and the number of missing elderly people has been increasing annually, TADA said it collaborated with the National Police Agency (NPA) and the Federation for the Welfare of the Elderly to devise the system.

The “three do nots” are: Do not wait 24 hours to file a missing person’s report with the police; do not go far to file the report, just the nearest police station; and do not spend money to help the police to find a missing person.

More than 20,000 missing person reports are filed annually with the police, and about half of the missing elderly suffer from dementia, NPA Crime Prevention Division section head Lin Da-wei (林大為) said.

There were 2,190 missing people with dementia reported last year, leaving family members in a state of pain and anxiety, and the agency has specially trained officers to handle missing-person reports, he said.

The “six dos” are: Update the national identification card photograph of dementia sufferers to ensure that it matches the individual’s current appearance; give the individual a bracelet with family contact information; place labels with contact information on the individual’s clothing and accessories; make a copy of the individual’s fingerprints; use GPS tracking wearable device; and establish a neighborhood watch in your community to help look out for one other.

People with dementia can lose their sense of direction, make poor decisions and can fail to ask for help when they lose their way, while accidents can occur, especially in the heat of summer and cold of winter, TADA secretary-general Tang Li-yu (湯麗玉) said.

Tsai Shu-nu (蔡淑女), a senior tracker at the Haishan Police Precinct in New Taipei City, said that case studies show the “completeness of information of the missing person file report” and “GPS tracking” are the most important factors in finding missing people.

Family members of dementia sufferers should take a daily photograph of the individual so that if they go missing, there will be a current photo of the person’s appearance and clothing, and that they should provide details about appearance and transportation possibilities when filing a police report, Tsai said.

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