Missing Persons and Elderly Adults
Get the answers your family deserves.
When we think of the missing and endangered, we often think of children, but adults over the 65 can also be classified as ‘missing and endangered.’ Cognitive impairments such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, physical ailments and lack of mobility, and other factors can render the elderly vulnerable. At Lauth, we understand that when the elderly go missing, there are mitigating factors that can divert traditional investigative procedure, and those factors must be given extra consideration and care.
Our missing person investigators are comprised of former law enforcement and military personnel. We have diverse experience in missing person cases, including cases of the missing & elderly. Despite the fact that elderly persons rarely receive the media attention of younger individuals, Lauth’s missing person investigators know that these individuals deserve the same attention and investigative vigor as any other case.
When a loved one goes missing, as private investigator Thomas Lauth says, “the family become members of a club no one wants to join.” And when a loved one with a cognitive impairment or physical limitation goes missing, it can exacerbate the fear and dread. Taking action right away will help ensure the investigation gets off to a strong start. While missing adults may not receive the same attention that missing children do, they still need people to look for them. And when an elderly adult goes missing, it’s going to take a network of educated and informed individuals to find them.
Free to Go Missing?
It’s not uncommon for a person to go missing on their own terms. After all, adults are free to conduct their lives as they see fit, beholden to no one so long as they do not break the law. Perhaps they’re a battered spouse attempting to escape their partner, or a person escaping harassment on behalf of people in their community, or maybe they just want a fresh start. These assumptions leave missing adult cases with a high threshold to prove the person is in danger.
Similar to In Indiana, endangered missing persons bulletins are often accompanied by a Silver Alert, which applies to senior citizens and adults who might be imminently harmed. This places the case on high priority for law enforcement, and sends push notifications out to cell phones in the area that are capable of receiving them. This is invaluable as part of a search campaign, because while other media campaigns can take time and luck, these alerts pushes the information directly into the hands of the public. This increases the likelihood that your missing & elderly loved one’s face will be seen. This can generate additional leads in the investigation that could results in your missing loved one’s safe recovery. Keeping your missing loved one’s face is one of the most important aspects of a search campaign, as it increases the likelihood they will be found.
Dimentia & Other Cognitive Impairments
Dementia is not a mental illness, but adults with dementia are the most vulnerable adults who disappear. Dementia and mental illness do share some qualities, most significantly that they are disorders of the brain. Their brain chemistry is fundamentally different from the average human, leading to a myriad of brain disorders from Alzheimer’s to paranoid schizophrenia. As a result, investigating the disappearance of these persons becomes complicated. Adults with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are prone to what’s known as “wandering.” There are millions of stories of individuals whose aging parents simply wandered away from the property—or from their side—one day. Kimberly Kelly is the founder and current director of Project Far from Home, an educational program tailored to train law enforcement and search and rescue teams how to respond to calls concerning missing adults with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Kelly told HuffPost, “With 5.5 million people with the disease, and 70 percent wandering away at least once, you can do the math. Even [if] it is a 10-minute wandering episode versus a 10-day episode, you’re still looking at potentially 3 million people who would be walking away any given year. It’s huge.”
It’s a startling statistic of epidemic proportions, but rarely is it covered in the media. And even more terrifying, it has the potential to become much worse as the baby boomers continue to age. That’s an estimated 16.5 million individuals who will suffer from Alzheimer’s before the year 2050. In the case of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, they are adults who cannot afford anything less than immediate response from family and law enforcement. When they cannot remember where they are, where they wanted to go, or how to get back home, they are the definition of endangered. Help for Alzhemier’s Families is a resource website with invaluable information for caregivers.
Hiring a Private Investigator
An avenue often unexplored by families of missing adults with mental illness is hiring a private investigator or missing person investigator. After all, law enforcement is equipped with the tools and experience to find missing adults, especially ones with mental illnesses. However, private investigators have similar experience and tools as law enforcement, and can give your loved one’s case the focus it demands. Depending on how well-staffed a police department is, the average investigator can juggle between 30-40 cases, leaving your missing loved one with mental illness as a file on someone’s desk. On average, private investigators handle between three and four cases at a time, meaning your missing loved one’s case gets the attention and dedication it deserves. Law enforcement is not obligated to notify the family of a missing adult with mental illness if they locate them, unless they fall under the supervision of the court. A private investigator is restricted by law on the information they can release once an adult with mental illness has been located, but they can inform the missing adult that their family is concerned about them, and the private investigator can relay the message to the family that their loved one has been found.