Caring for people with dementia

Published: Feb. 21, 2017 at 9:41 PM CST
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Local law enforcement solved a missing persons case Tuesday morning, finding a local man with dementia.

The 76-year-old man was found wandering in a field north of Highway 30 and west of West Park Plaza without a coat and shoes.

Wandering in familiar areas and forgetfulness are a few signs of dementia.

Providence Place officials said it takes a community to keep people with dementia safe, so they recommend family members reach out to locals so people know what to expect if a person is missing.

The executive director of the facility, Nicky Ockinga, said it's all about establishing a relationship with the residents and making sure they are comfortable.

Ockinga adds they have staff onsite at all times to help residents anyway they can.

They treat 16 people with different forms of dementia at the facility.

Officials said sometimes people with the disease have behavioral issues, because they are misunderstood.

"We have residents that do become combative at times, but it's all about approach," Providence Place Director of Health Care Jaime Sievers said. "If you approach them the right way you can eliminate those behaviors."

Staff add it's important for families to be aware of dementia.

"Most people don't understand that a person with Alzheimer's disease or dementia only understand about one of every four words that you say," Ockinga said. "So their understanding of what you say is not always what other people catch."

There are different resources that can help track missing people with dementia.

The Buffalo County Watch System has a silver alert that sends out notifications about missing elders with the disease.