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Improved techniques may help recovery and prevent incidents of missing drivers with dementia
Date:12/14/2012

Tampa, FL (Dec. 14, 2012) A new study focusing on how people with dementia become lost while driving, how missing drivers are found, and the role of public notification systems like Silver Alert in these discoveries suggests techniques that may help recover drivers with dementia and prevent potentially harmful incidents.

The study was led by principal investigator Meredeth A. Rowe, RN, PhD, FGSA, FAAN, professor and endowed chair at the University of South Florida College of Nursing. The findings were published online last month in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society: Missing Drivers with Dementia: Antecedents and Recovery.

Based on the study results, the research team reported several recommendations to help guide local policies and training for Silver Alert-type programs that broadcast information about missing seniors with Alzheimer's disease, dementia or other cognitive deficits, including:

  • Rapid, direct notification of law enforcement agencies as well as equipping officers a mechanism for quickly assessing the cognitive status of drivers is critical. Law enforcement officers are more likely than citizens or family members to discover missing drivers with dementia.

  • More detailed information about a missing individual, not just a description of the car being driven, may better assist law enforcement officers and citizens in rescuing lost drivers who have left their vehicles to wander on foot.

  • State and federal agencies planning a Silver Alert program need to develop policies and procedures that recognize the distinct differences between those missing while driving and those lost while walking.

  • Retirement from driving is the only preventive option when individuals can no longer safely operate a motor vehicle because dementia interferes with their ability to retain and use new information.

"With the baby-boomer generation getting older, the number of t
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Contact: Ashlea Hudak
ahudak@health.usf.edu
813-396-9642
University of South Florida (USF Health)
Source:Eurekalert

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