Iowa Agencies Get the Job Done


Iowa Agencies Get the Job Done

On his trip to New Zealand Bob Hanson thought the last thing he would have to worry about was losing his wife. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened.

For two hours Bob searched for his missing wife who had wandered off when the couple stopped by the store to get supplies for their hotel room. Luckily, Bob found his wife Beverly at a marina about two and a half miles from where the store was located. 

 After that horrific incident, it was apparent to Bob that something was wrong. The Cedar Rapids couple found out later that year that Beverly had Alzheimer’s. Her wandering tendencies got so bad that doctors recommend she be placed in a secure facility in order not to pose a danger to herself. 

Currently, Iowa does not have a “Silver Alert” system in place to aid in the finding of elderly persons. According to the Iowa City Police Department and the Johnson County Sheriff’s office- the standard practice is to take a report immediately then saturate the area where the person was last seen with officers. 

“I think every case is different,” said Capt. Joe Lalla, with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office. “Each case you just take on a case-by-case basis, and you work on it that way and see where it leads you.”

Lessons learned:
Have a plan in place locally to respond to this special population.

  • Over 60% of people with Alzheimer’s disease will wander or become lost 
  • 1.5 mile radius--Most missing persons with Alzheimer’s disease who wander on foot are found within 1.5 miles of point last seen—if they have taken a vehicle and subsequently left it, they will likely be within a 1.5 mile radius of the vehicle. 
  • Having a specific plan within your agency will reduce response time and specialized training can help target search areas. 
  • Work within state plan (if available) when appropriate to add resources to your search and rescue efforts.


Read More:

 Return to the Alzheimer’s Initiative main page.