Alzheimer Society Ontario Expands Protection for People with Dementia who May Go Missing

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Alzheimer’s safety campaign continues to reach out to individuals in a variety of cultural communities

Alzheimer Society of Ontario
The reality is that the disease affects men and woman of all races, religion and socio-economic backgrounds, underscoring the need to raise awareness across all ethno-cultural groups.

The Alzheimer Society of Ontario, in partnership with the Government of Ontario is expanding the groundbreaking Finding Your Way TM program, a multicultural safety awareness initiative for people with dementia who go missing or become lost. The program will help prevent people with dementia from “wandering” and going missing, and help caregivers and other family members prepare for such incidents, if they occur.

The multi-lingual wandering prevention program, which received over $1.5 million in funding from the Government of Ontario, expands into Italian, Spanish and Portuguese languages to reach Ontarians whose first language may not be English or French. Other languages already available across the province are English, French, Cantonese, Mandarin and Punjabi. These languages were chosen based on population statistics in Ontario showing that approximately 251,400 Ontarians speak Italian, 178,400 speak Spanish, 148,000 speak Portuguese, 500,400 speak Chinese and 174,000 speak Punjabi.i

Nearly 200,000 Ontarians over 65 have dementia, an increase of 16 percent over the past four years. By 2020, nearly 250,000 seniors in this province will be living with some form of dementia.ii Statistics show that three out of five people with dementia go missing at some point, often without warning. There is greater risk of injury, even death, for those missing for more than 24 hours. Having a plan in place and knowing how to protect the individual is a must for caregivers.

The Finding Your Way TM safety kit contains tools and resources to help ensure the safety of the person with dementia without depriving them of their independence or dignity, and information to help families create personalized safety plans. The kit includes:

  •     An identification kit with space for a recent photo and physical description that can be shared with police in an emergency
  •     At-home safety steps to help prevent missing incidents from occurring
  •     Steps to safeguard a person with dementia, such as using the Alzheimer Society of Canada’s MedicAlert® Safely Home® program
  •     Tips on what to do when a person with dementia goes missing and when reuniting after a wandering incident
  •     The latest information on locating devices

“As the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease continues to increase, wandering behaviour will rise accordingly. The reality is that the disease affects men and woman of all races, religion and socio-economic backgrounds, underscoring the need to raise awareness across all ethno-cultural groups,” says Gale Carey, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Ontario. “That’s why we are so grateful for the Ontario Government to have played a leadership role in helping create a far-reaching safety net for persons with dementia and the family and community members who care about them.”

“With the expansion of the Finding Your Way program we are reaching more people, including those where English and French are not their first language, with important information to protect those facing Alzheimer’s disease,” said Mario Sergio, Minister Responsible for Seniors. “Through Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors we are working with people who face dementia and their families to improve the safety and security of seniors.”

"To keep people with dementia safe, caregivers and the community should work together to become aware of and know what to do when someone goes missing. The Finding Your Way program is an excellent resource for families to learn preventive tips to keep people with dementia safe, while also giving police information about the person missing on the personalized identification form in the Safety Kit. If a missing incident happens and you are prepared with the information to assist police, the search process can be sped up," says Andrew Fletcher, Deputy Chief of the Halton Regional Police Service and co-chair of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) Community Safety and Crime Prevention Committee."

Filomena Roque, a caregiver from Hamilton knows the value of a safety awareness program like Finding Your Way. “Since my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, she’s been very anxious. She keeps reaching for the door and wants to go out all the time. After a few incidents, when she managed to leave the house by herself, we installed alarms at the doors. But one afternoon, my husband and I dozed off and we did not hear the alarm. When I opened my eyes she was gone. Luckily, my daughter was driving on her way home and saw my mother walking along the same road. It was very scary,” says Filomena. "I'm glad there is a program like Finding Your Way to help raise awareness of missing incidents and provide tips to caregivers like myself to prevent them from happening".

To learn more about Finding Your Way, visit or contact your local Alzheimer Society at

i Population by Mother Tongue, by Province and Territory, excluding Institutional Residents (2011 Census) (New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario): Government of Canada, Statistics Canada
ii R. Hopkins, Geriatric Psychiatry Programme, Clinical/Research Bulletin, Number 16, 2010

About the Alzheimer Society of Ontario
The Alzheimer Society of Ontario is the province’s leading health charity committed to helping people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. With a network of 37 Societies across Ontario, we offer Help for Today through our programs and services for people living with dementia and Hope for Tomorrow…® by funding research to find the cause and the cure.

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Pascale Guillotte
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