“To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent –
that is to triumph over old age.” Thomas Bailey Aldrich
Numbers don’t lie…
On average, 90,000 people are missing in the USA at any given time, according to staff at the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System-NamUs, a national database for missing people.
According to updated statistics (February 2015) presented at caregiver.org:
In 2012, 14.8% of the 65+ population were reported to be below the poverty level. Among the population aged 65+, 69% will develop disabilities before they die, and 35% will eventually enter a nursing home.
Most but not all persons in need of long-term care are elderly. Approximately 63% are persons aged 65 and older (6.3 million); the remaining 37% are 64 years of age and younger (3.7 million).
“The prevalence of cognitive impairment among the older population increased over the past decade, while the prevalence of physical impairment remains unchanged.”
Against this backdrop, there remains no hard statistics related to the number of elderly persons who go missing each year in all categories and circumstances. We do have snapshots. In July 2013, Journalist David Lohr wrote about the number of missing persons who have wandered off as a consequence of one of the better-known forms of dementia – Alzheimer’s disease. According to the article in the Huffington Post,
There has been a steady increase in such reported cases from non-profit organizations.
“There’re approximately 125,000 search-and-rescue missions where volunteer teams are deployed for missing Alzheimer’s patients every year,” said Kimberly Kelly, founder and director of Project Far From Home, an Alzheimer’s education program designed for law enforcement and search and rescue” personnel.”
Dealing with a missing person with cognitive impairments requires special skills and knowledge regarding how to search and locate these victims efficiently.
Some elderly persons are “sharp as a tack” at 80; other’s mental faculties can begin to decline at 50; Still others can function with some independence into their 90’s and beyond. It all depends on a combination of genetics, environment, intellect, and lifestyle.
I worked with seniors for many years in clinical settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, group homes and state institutions. No matter the circumstance, I learned from each patient. Whether their personality was “cranky mean” or “sweet as pie,” they all had histories and a lesson to offer me. Professionally, they were a different, preferred challenge, compared to working with kids.
If one peruses the wall of missing persons on the website of the Cue Center for Missing Persons, it doesn’t take much scrolling before several elderly missing persons are located, intermixed with all of the other missing persons of varying ages. My goal is to simply highlight a handful in this category. Too often the general public treats the elderly as “disposable people” rather than persons from whom we can learn a great deal and deserve respect for their contributions and sacrifices in life.
Backstories – to the Following Missing Persons – Included in this list is a healthy, hardy walker who went missing at a campground, a woman who cashed a check at her bank and was never seen again, a man who was dropped off at his condominium and never located, a women who frequented bus trips to New York and often went off on her own as a “free spirit”, not wanting to stay with the group. They range in age from 65 to 85 from several different geographic locations across the country. One has been missing for 12 years, others less time. One day missing is too long! PLEASE, review the profiles and study the circumstances and photos of each person – Bonnie McFadden, Floyd Price, Sandra Love Quay, Deward Killion. I encourage you to share this blog far and wide, as they are very important people who should NEVER be forgotten “just because they may be considered old.”
CUE CENTER FOR MISSING PERSONS PROFILES:
“I love the elderly… After all, I will be one among them in about 30 years”