Deborah Lynn Rawlings, 60, is missing, according to a press release sent out by The Alzheimer’s Association. She has been gone for more than four days and was last seen the afternoon of Saturday, Aug. 17, walking south on Highway 61/67 near Herky Horine Road in Pevely, Mo.
Rawlings suffers from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and is without her medications. Rawlings was traveling on foot and had little or no money on her. Along with authorities, there are currently seven different search teams looking for Rawlings. The association says she might seem confused, but should still be able to give her name and address if asked.
Rawlings is white, stands about 5 feet 2 inches and weighs about 140 pounds. She was last seen carrying a purple backpack and wearing a blue T-Shirt, blue denim shorts, and a light-gray hooded sweatshirt.
If anyone has information about her, they should call the Pevely Police Department at 636.475.5301. If she appears to be injured in any way, call 911.
The Alzheimer’s Association reports that wandering can put an individual’s safety in jeopardy. More than 60 percent of those with dementia will wander, and if a person is not found within 24 hours, up to half of individuals who wander will suffer serious injury or death. The association urges family members of Alzheimer’s victims to enroll in the MedicAlert Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return program, a nationwide identification program designed to assist in the return of those who wander and become lost.
Signs of wandering behavior
A person may be at risk for wandering if he or she:
- Comes back from a regular walk or drive later than usual
- Tries to fulfill former obligations, such as going to work
- Tries or wants to “go home” even when at home
- Is restless, paces or makes repetitive movements
- Has a hard time locating familiar places like the bathroom, bedroom or dining room
- Acts as if doing a hobby or chore, but nothing gets done (moves around pots and dirt without actually planting anything)
- Acts nervous or anxious in crowded areas, such as shopping malls or restaurants
Tips to reduce wandering
If you live with or care for a person with dementia, here are a few tips to help you reduce the risk of wandering:
- Move around and exercise to reduce anxiety agitation and restlessness
- Ensure all basic needs are met (toileting, nutrition, thirst)
- Carry out daily activities, such as folding laundry or preparing dinner to provide daily structure
- Reassure the person if he or he feels lost, abandoned or disoriented
- Avoid busy places that are confusing and can cause disorientation, such as shopping malls
- Place deadbolts either high or low on exterior doors
- Control access to car keys (a person with dementia may not just wander by foot)
- Do not leave someone with dementia unsupervised in new surroundings
For more information or support call the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline, at 800.272.3900 or visit www.alz.org/stl.