How to Help Police Find Your Loved One

by Safety Connection

September 14, 2022

Yesterday (9/13/22) Madison Police searched for a 75-year-old man with dementia who had wandered away from his residence on Winnebago Street. MPD used the K9 Unit, Drone (UAS) Team and officers on foot to conduct a search. He was eventually located safe about 7 miles from home at a business in the town of Burke.

You can visit the Alzheimer’s Association website for information about signs that a person may be at risk for wandering, things you can do to reduce that risk, and how to make a home safer to prevent wandering. They say that “6 out of 10 people living with dementia will wander at least once; many do so repeatedly.”

If you have a loved one with dementia and cannot find them after a 15-minute search, call 911 because time is of the essence (especially in inclement weather).

And if you have a friend or family member with dementia or cognitive issues, or if you have small children, there are some ways you can prepare ahead of time to help law enforcement officers find your loved one faster.

Here are some tips from Madison Police:

  • Keep a current photo of your loved one that you can readily share with responding officers.
  • Be mindful of past tendencies of your family member or friend and where they might go, who they know, and what kinds of things they like.
  • If possible, please be prepared to share how officers can best interact with your loved one when we find them. What is helpful for them, and what is not? These things can help us thoughtfully tailor our response.
  • Let us know about known medical conditions and medications that your loved one takes. This information is part of the criteria for certain alerts that Madison Police can issue, and it can inform the way we proceed with the investigation.

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