Missing 72-year-old man with Alzheimer's found after wandering from Queens home

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Thursday, December 22, 2022
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RICHMOND HILL, Queens (WABC) -- A 72-year-old man with Alzheimer's disease was found Thursday after he wandered away from his home in Queens.

A desperate search ensued after Miguel Rivera wandered away from his home on 110th Street in Richmond Hill on Wednesday just after 4:30 p.m.

He was wearing a black jacket, black beanie, green sweatpants, and black and white shoes.

Police described Rivera as having a light complexion, 5'8", 150lbs, thin build, brown eyes, short gray hair, gray goatee, and a missing front tooth.

They released this image of Rivera:

He is the father of a local DEA agent and Rivera's family was concerned that he could be somewhere outside during the incoming severe storm.

Fortunately, Rivera was found safely Thursday afternoon and is being evaluated by EMS.

The Alzheimer's Foundation of America offers these tips to prevent wandering.

Wandering is a common behavior that accompanies Alzheimer's disease. It often stems from a purpose or an unmet need, and can even be a form of communication. For example, some individuals may leave their homes because they believe they need to go to work or to go home.

AFA offers the following tips to help mitigate the risk of wandering:

Do not leave a person with dementia home alone.

Monitor and record the individual's wandering patterns-frequency, duration, time of day, etc. For example, if wandering occurs first thing in the morning, the person might be hungry; in the late afternoon or early evening, they might be experiencing "sundowning," if at night, the person may need to use the toilet.

Consult with a physician to see if medications can help. Individuals who wander as a result of delusions or hallucinations may require psychotropic medications.

Join the person to encourage independence and mobility while keeping him safe and supervised.

Provide recreational activities, such as music, exercise, or crafts to help reduce boredom and keep the individual engaged and active.

Install electronic chimes or doorbells on doors so someone is alerted if the individual tries to exit.

Post a large sign that says "stop" on doors leading outside.

Utilize medical identification bracelets, necklaces, and tracking devices for monitoring

Alert neighbors and other immediate community members, including local police, of your concerns, so they can be aware.

Ensure current photographs of your loved one and medical information are available, if needed.

Look for changes in patterns. For example, people who begin to wander after a prolonged period in a facility may suffer from a new medical, psychiatric or cognitive complication. For instance, delirium may produce the abrupt onset of wandering.

If the individual resides in an assisted living or long-term care setting, provide familiar objects, such as family photographs, slippers and a quilt, to an individual living to make it feel like home.

Put away essential items, such as the person's coat, shoes, pocketbook or glasses, since some individuals will not go out without certain articles. Check out in advance if your state has a missing person's alert system, most commonly known as Silver Alert. Click here for a state listing of Silver Alert programs.

In addition to these tips, organizations such as Project Lifesaver, International, based out of Port St. Lucie, Florida, offer technologies that can help locate and safely return cognitively impaired individuals to their homes. Various law enforcement agencies, such as police and sheriffs' departments make up thousands of Project Lifesaver members across the country.

People enrolled in PLI's program wear a small, personal transmitter around the wrist or ankle that emits an individualized tracking signal. If the person goes missing, the caregiver notifies the local Project Lifesaver agency, and a trained emergency team responds to the wanderer's area. Most program participants who wander are found within a few miles from home, and search times have been reduced from hours and days to minutes. In fact, according to PLI, recovery times for clients average 30 minutes, which is 95 percent less time than with standard search and rescue operations.

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