When Wandering Becomes Deadly

Wandering“Children and adults with autism and other disabilities frequently wander from safe settings, often with tragic consequences. It’s time for federal action,” said Wendy Fournier, president of the National Autism Association.

The tendency to wander away from safety is a huge problem for children with autism and adults with cognitive disabilities. A staggering 50% of all children with autism will wander from home or school and more than 60% of adults with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia will do the same. 40% of such cases involving a loved one who has wandered off will result in death.   

Many states including Virginia have enacted legislation which allows state and local agencies to proactively take measures to prevent anyone with cognitive impairments from wandering into harm’s way.  Virginia’s law allows law enforcement agencies to get involve quickly.   There are also things the individual's loved ones can put in place that will prevent a wandering tragedy.

  • Choose the Right Alarm: Today’s marketplace offers a wide variety of affordable alarm systems for doors and windows that will help prevent your loved one from slipping away unnoticed.
  • Tracking Device: Check with local law enforcement for Project Lifesaver, MedicAlert, or LoJak SafetyNet services. These tracking devices are worn on the wrist or ankle and locate the individual through radio frequency. Various GPS tracking systems are also available.
  • ID Bracelet: Medical ID bracelets include your loved one's name, telephone number and other important information. They state that your loved one has autism or dementia. If wearing a bracelet or necklace is intolerable, temporary tattoos with contact information are available.
  • Neighbors: Sit down with your neighbors for a brief visit to introduce your loved one and don't forget to provide a photograph. Neighbors can be an invaluable resource in helping to reduce the risks associated with wandering.

Whether you’re a caregiver for a loved one with autism or dementia, I urge you to plan for your future and for the future care needs of your loved one. You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: elder law planning. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.  However, proper estate planning is not a do-it-yourself project.  Why not call us for a complimentary consultation at 757-259-0707.

References:Spectrumsmagazine.com (March 17, 2015) “The Dangers of Wandering” and Brightfocus.org (June 22, 2015) Staying Safe: Wandering and the Alzheimer’s Patient”

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The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.