Community Alert System Helps Locate Missing Individuals with Dementia

Older adult holds smartphone

Award Date: 2018

Project Lead(s): Lili Liu, Dean, Faculty of Applied Sciences University of Waterloo

Project Title: Community ASAP - A Localized Area Alert System for Missing Individuals with Dementia or Older Adults

What is the issue?

Three out of five persons with dementia wander. When a loved one goes missing, it can be devastating for caregivers.

What did we do?

We developed and tested Community ASAP, a website and mobile application that sends out alerts and helps find missing persons with dementia. A community coordinator with the local police initiates the alerts, which are also sent out over social media. Community volunteers register to receive alerts within chosen geographic areas in order to help keep an eye out for mission persons when they receive alerts. If they see the missing person, they can use the app or call 911. Individuals living with dementia or their caregivers can pre-register.

What did we find?

We created a helpful application that is easy-to-use by working with police, search-and-rescue organizations, and agencies that support older adults living with dementia and tested the app in three provinces. We also interviewed 20 stakeholders to understand more about the ethical and legal issues about sharing information on the app.