There are times when people living with dementia might wander away from their homes or family, or simply forget where they are. These incidents can cause panic and worry for their caretakers. The MedicAlert® NYC Wanderer’s Safety Program locates missing people who are living with dementia and lends support to their caregivers. New York City based CaringKind is another initiative dedicated to finding those with dementia when they go missing. It has over 25,500 individuals enrolled in the program. In this interview, Elizabeth Santiago describes the Wanderer’s Safety Program and CaringKind and shares case studies of caregivers and people living with dementia whom the program has served.

MedicAlert® NYC has a staff of only two people but operates in full cooperation with the NYC Police Department. The service increased missing person safe return registration by 117 percent in 2006. The staff collects data about missing people from their families and coordinates the search for missing individuals. Another way they increase the finding rate is to provide registered customers with identifiers, such as clothing labels, bracelets, and wallet cards.

This simple yet successful system demonstrates the large effect low tech solutions can provide to dementia care organizations. Every country can follow their example to increase the quality and effectiveness of caring for eldery with dementia.