Metro Families Deal with Dementia While Caring for Elderly

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- It was a happy ending Wednesday morning for one family who searched for hours for a loved one with dementia. Police brought Ruby Sweet home safe and sound, after friends and neighbors spent 15 hours searching for her near her KCK home. When police found her, she was tired and dehydrated, but otherwise in good health. But an ambulance took her to a hospital just to be sure she was okay.

But this incident is the third time in just a week that family members in the metro have had to go on a desperate search for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer's.

Last week, Robert Pierce wandered from his home. He left Tuesday morning and someone found him tired and disoriented at Berkley Riverside park Wednesday evening. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Then on Sunday morning, George Macias walked out of Cherry Hills Community and Rehabilitation nursing home. His family says he wore a special bracelet with sensor alarms that should have alerted staff if he left the building. Apparently it didn't, and Macias was found dead in a creek on NE Barry Road, several miles away from the nursing home. State inspection reports show the facility has been reprimanded in the past for failing to use properly functioning alarms.

Ruby Sweet's family says they did fear the worst for her too, but they're thrilled that she came home safe to them.

"She'll live to be 200," said her grandson Chris Sweet. "To be 72-years-old walking that far in this heat, nothing to drink or eat, she's going to outlive everybody."

The family is also grateful that so many neighbors helped out with the search, and that police were able to find her so quickly.

"Kansas City thank you so much, we appreciate everyone who helped us and searched all night with us," says Tommy Sweet.

The Alzheimer's Association says it encourages families to get their loved ones registered in the Safe Return program, it provides a medic alert bracelet and phone number so someone found wandering can be returned home to family.
Click here for more information.

Also, click here for tips for preventing a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer's from wandering.

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