Why individuals with dementia go lacking

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People with dementia are more likely to go missing in areas with dense, complicated, and disorganized roads, according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

The researchers examined hundreds of police missing person reports for people with dementia and compared each case to the surrounding road network.

They hope their results can help inform future safety guidelines.

Prof. Michael Hornberger of the UEA’s Norwich Medical School said, “People with dementia who are lost or missing are a problem worldwide. Around 70 percent of people with dementia may go missing at least once, with some at risk multiple times to be missed.

“In the UK, around 40,000 people with dementia are missing for the first time each year – and that number is likely to increase as the dementia population is projected to grow.

“Unfortunately, the first event that people with dementia go missing comes completely out of the blue when doing routine activities like walking the dog or picking up the newspaper from the local store.

“Missing a person with dementia can be life-threatening. However, very little is known why people with dementia are actually missing.”

The research team wanted to find out whether the design of road networks could be linked to missing people.

They examined 210 police records of people with dementia who had disappeared in Norfolk over three years – and compared each case to the nearby road network.

Ph.D. Student Vaisakh Puthusseryppady, also from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said, “We know that people with dementia have difficulty navigating, so we wanted to find out if there was a relationship between missing people and the outdoor environment in which they are gone. “

“We were particularly interested in street layouts, as these determine our navigation to a large extent, in particular the complexity of the street network, the complexity of the street intersections and the order of the overall layout of the street network.

“We found that the higher the density of intersections, the more complicated the intersections, and the less ordered or less grid-like the entire road network, the greater the risk that people with dementia will be lost.

“We believe this is because every intersection is a point at which a person must make a critical navigational decision. The more intersections there are, the more complex those intersections and the more disorganized the entire road network – the bigger the problem for people with dementia.

“This is because these factors can make people with dementia more likely to make a mistake and take a wrong turn, causing them to be lost and missed.

“We hope that by identifying these environmental risk factors, our results may help identify or predict areas where people with dementia are at greater risk of being missed – and help develop protective guidelines to prevent that they will be missed in the future. ” .

“It will also contain future recommendations for dementia-friendly urban design,” he added.

“Impact of the road network structure on dementia-related absenteeism: a spatial buffer approach” will be published on October 29, 2020 in the journal Scientific Reports.

Dementia main cause of death in September Provided by the University of East Anglia

Quote: Why people with dementia are missing (2020, October 29), accessed October 29, 2020 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-10-people-dementia.html

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