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There is an increasing incidence of cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and autism that cause people to wander or become lost.

According to the National Crime Information Center's (NCIC) Active/Expired Missing and Unidentified Analysis Reports, there were 94,909 cases of endangered or disabled missing persons recorded in 2010 (33,684 disabled; 61,225 endangered)-- the most up-to-date stats.

Following are statistics on the population of people who have autism and are afflicted with Alzheimer's disease:


  • Autism is considered the fastest growing developmental disability, as it now afflicts one in every 100 children.*
  • A leading cause for concern is children and adults who run away or wander from parents and care providers. Tragically, children and adults with autism are often attracted to water sources such as pools, ponds, and lakes. Drowning is a leading cause of death for a child or adult who has autism.**
  • In a recent National Autism Association online survey, 92% of respondents said their autistic child was at risk of wandering.


  • Currently 5.8 million people in North America suffer from Alzheimer's disease.
  • 5.3 million Americans are afflicted with Alzheimer's (59% of those in all stages tend to wander) and with the aging baby boomer population, that number is expected to increase to as many as 16 million by the year 2050. Wandering and not being found within 24 hours can lead to significant injury or worse.***
  • There are nearly 10 million Americans providing 8.4 billion hours of care to people with Alzheimer's disease or other dementias.
  • 70 percent of people with Alzheimer's live at home, cared for by family and friends.
  • 94% of Alzheimer's wanderers are found within 1.5 miles of where they were last seen (vs. 65% for elderly without Alzheimer's). In addition, 75% were not found on standard roads, trails or other standard travel locations. ****

    * Center for Disease Control
    ** National Autism Association
    *** Alzheimer's Association
    **** Compilation of 3 different studies done on wandering cases in VA and MA