We Could Have Found Elsie Sooner

By Jane D. Ogilvie, Elder Care Issue Consultant


Elsie Hoy’s story is one of the latest reminders about the relationship between dementia and wandering. http://wfla.com/2017/01/14/woman-suffering-from-dementia-anxiety-missing... Thankfully, hers ended on a happy note.


Though found within 24 hours, Elsie was at extreme risk, starting with the fact that she left her care facility in the evening, in the dark. I wonder if Sundowners syndrome had been identified before this night, and calculated in as a risk factor for Elsie?


An article in Medical News Today dated December 14, 2016, describes Sundowner’s syndrome and the goals of treating it. The article mentions the increased confusion, agitation, and fear that may occur. It advises care givers to be on the lookout for the possibility of sufferers “accidentally injuring themselves”. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314685.php#causes_of_sundowners...


Looking down from the window of a jet, the area in which Elsie lives is chock full of lakes and ponds reminding you of Swiss cheese. You might consider the area a suburb- not exactly urban and not exactly rural. There are some well-traveled roadways within conceivable reach for someone like Elsie described as being “very mobile on foot…”. Don’t forget there are still wild animals living in Florida. Though bloodhounds and a police helicopter had been called in to help find Elsie, they were unable to find her.


Do you have a loved one with dementia at home or in a facility? What environmental considerations should be part of your plan to keep your loved ones safe if they “elope”? Do you live near a forested area, highly concentrated urban area, out on the High Plains, or near desert lands?


The fact is, whether living at home in familiar surroundings, or in a care facility, those with dementia and cognitive impairment are at risk for wandering. It happens. If it happens once, the likelihood of it happening again increases. Facilities cannot assume security systems are 100% foolproof, because as we learn about Elsie’s story, we see (again), they are not. Families must recognize these kind of elopements happen no matter what you’re told about a facilities security system. Accidents happen! The systems may be effective 99% of the time but what happens in that 1% scenario where a system is on and working properly, but still a dementia sufferer walks out? We are fortunate to have Elsie safe once again.


The GPS SmartSole locating device can help ensure a faster find in emergency situations like Elsie’s. Had Elsie had this sensible and cost effective GPS device in her shoes that night, family and staff would have been alerted within 10 mins that she was not within her “safe zone”. They could have seen the direction she’d gone in, and if she was still walking or had stopped. Staff, family, or police could have been able to get in the car and go pick her up. No dogs or helicopter would have had to have been called in. Everyone’s anxiety would have been reduced – especially Elsie’s because she wouldn’t have been wandering around all night and part of the morning by herself.


GPS SmartSole locating device is worthy of the public’s attention.


For more information about the device and/or to purchase please click here:



If you are a care facility, own a personal security or home security business, or work in a business where security is an issue, or are an executive who is at risk, please click here for contact information:



#dementia, #wandering, #autism, #caregivers, #safety





Senior Advisor
St. Petersburg
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Jane's picture

No matter where you live, people with Alzheimer's disease or any of the various forms of dementia can go missing and get lost. Please share this story and information with others. Maybe we can all help someone to be found more quickly.
Jay Jaser's picture

Hi Jane, This is a very informative blog, and we are sharing it with our colleagues. Thanks, Jay
Comfort Keepers of Shelton CT's picture

Great blog!