Stepping up to the challenge of Alzheimer’s

A George Mason University professor is putting his best foot forward in an effort to solve the problem of individuals afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease who may be too disoriented to safely return to their homes after venturing out.

“An estimated 60 percent of Alzheimer’s patients will wander at some point, and 47 percent of those not found within 24 hours may die, according to a 2002 study published in The American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias,” said Professor Andrew Carle, founding director of the Program in Senior Housing Administration at George Mason University.

Nationwide, Carle estimates that the disease affects more than 5 million people and will continue to grow as aging populations increase. “It will quadruple with the advent of the aging baby boomers,” he said.

According to the Fairfax County Police Department, in 2013 police officers responded to a total of 340 service calls for missing adults, a portion of which were for Alzheimer’s patients who had wandered away from home and were unable to return on their own.

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