Older people with dementia or memory loss are the focus of this year’s National Missing Person’s Week (2-8 August).
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) wants to raise awareness about memory loss and wandering as the population ages.
The AFP’s Acting Commissioner, Tony Negus said the latest research revealed that older people with dementia accounted for a large proportion of missing person reports.
“In South Australia alone, police data for the period 2005–06 showed that almost half of the people who had gone missing in the lost [or]wandered category were aged 65 years or over and had dementia,” he said.
“The theme this year ‘Not knowing is like living in darkness’ reflects the experience of families left behind when someone they care for with dementia disappears.”
The AFP has partnered with Alzheimer’s Australia and Homelessness Australia to further highlight the issue of dementia and the link between missing persons and homelessness.
The CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia, Glenn Rees said the number of people with dementia will double to 460,000 in the next twenty years.
“Their quality of life is dependent on the freedom to go for a walk or visit friends or engage in social activities,” he said.
“Some states, through Alzheimer’s Australia and state-based police services, have programs designed to return a missing person with dementia safely home, providing quick and accurate identification.”
The campaign urges Australians to keep an eye out for older people and to visit www.missingpersons.gov.au for more information.