Sarasota sheriff’s helicopter often used to find dementia patients

Sarasota County

It should come as no surprise that Florida has the largest elderly population in the country, but unfortunately, that means we have high rates of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Officials say it’s important to have a plan before your loved one gets lost.     

On Monday, an 88-year-old man with dementia had been missing for three hours, so the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office sent a chopper to find him.

“Time is of the essence in situations like this,” said SCSO Capt Bryan Ivings.  

Thankfully, he was soon safely recovered.

The Alzheimer’s Association says 60 percent of people with dementia will wander away at least once.

That’s why you constantly see so many Silver Alerts. But sadly, they don’t always have happy endings.

When a loved one vanishes, anything can happen.

“When you have dementia, you’re not going to be able to take care of yourself, you’re not going to be able to realize that you are being overcome through heat exhaustion,” said Capt. Ivings. 

Dr. Andrew Keegan works with dementia patients every day at the Roskamp Institute. 

“The patient, sometimes they don’t even recognize there’s a problem and that can be part of the challenge, they may not realize there are some difficulties driving and they’re struggling with finances and they can be in denial,” said Dr. Keegan.

Family members need to watch for warning signs early and make arrangements for their care. They should also talk to a doctor.

“What are the next six months or the next year going to be like? So then they can be a little better prepared,” said Dr. Keegan.

There are also options to track them if they get lost, like the Project Lifesaver program.

It’s important for loved ones to take action now before tragedy strikes.

It’s also important to be mindful at home as dementia patients can accidentally overdose on prescription medicine. 

The Alzheimer’s Association has some great information for caring for loved ones.

The Roskamp Institute in Sarasota also devoted to understanding the causes and finding treatments for brain disorders. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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