Programs to Locate Missing and Critically Wandering Elders: A Critical Review and a Call for Multiphasic Evaluation

May 7, 2012


  • Jennifer M. Kinney
  • J. Scott Brown

As America ages, greater numbers of older adults will be living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, leading to increased incidence of wandering. Currently there are several initiatives to assist older adults who go missing. We describe and critically examine three prominent and widespread programs: Safe Return, Project Lifesaver, and Silver Alert. Despite their emergence, there has been little research on their effectiveness. More fundamentally, the nature and scope of the missing elder problem is understudied. We call for further research into this issue, as well as assessments of how well such programs balance individual liberties with safety concerns.

Gerontologist, 53 (1), 17-25. doi: 10.1093/geront/gns060

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  • Chronic Illness/ Disability
  • Education