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Advice for carers of people with dementia

If a member of your family or someone you care for is living with dementia, they may at some point start to 'walk about'.

Advice to minimise the chance of this happening

  • Please consider the use of the Herbert Protocol which is a simple tool that can help the police if a vulnerable person goes missing.
  • Put signs on the doors informing the person that it is not an exit, encouraging them not to leave.
  • Consider pictorial references or signs to rooms. Black writing on a yellow background has been identified as the easiest to understand.
  • Inform your neighbours, friends, local shopkeepers and anyone else with whom the person has regular contact with that they have a tendency to walk about. Ask them to contact you immediately if they are seen out alone.
  • Make sure the person carries some form of identification and details of a carer or neighbour who can be contacted if they get lost. This can be sewn or printed into a jacket, back of their collar or a handbag. Alternatively, they could wear an identification bracelet or necklace.
  • Consider using devices which alert you when doors are being opened. This could involve placing bells over door handles, installing door chimes or pressure and motion sensors.
  • Encourage the person to carry a mobile phone with them at all times. If switched on and kept inside their pocket, this may help in locating their whereabouts. Likewise, GPS locators can be built into watches or stitched into clothing.
  • Consider storing certain items out of view, such as car/house keys, hats and coats, as this may reduce their impulse to leave. If the person gets restless towards the end of the day, suggest to them that you take a walk together.

Missing with dementia

  • Call the police on 999 – as soon as you realise that someone living with dementia is missing.
  • Quick action is very important – the police will treat your call as urgent. Have your completed Herbert Protocol to hand and tell the police operator that you have a Herbert Protocol.
  • Have several copies of a recent, close-up photograph of the person to give to the police and anyone else who might be searching for them.
  • Have a current description of the person to pass onto the police, including the clothes they were wearing and where they were last seen.