Wilderness Search and Rescue (SAR) is the search for persons who are lost or in distress in the wilderness (also known as "the woods").
Traditionally associated with wilderness areas, ground searches are increasingly required in urban and suburban areas to locate persons with all types of dementia and other conditions that lead to wandering behavior.


Why Persons with Dementia Wander and/or Get Lost
There are a number of reasons why a person might wander. The person’s failing memory and declining ability to communicate may make it impossible for them to remember or explain the reason they wandered.

Changed environment
A person with dementia may feel uncertain and disoriented in a new environment, such as a new house or day care center. Wandering may stop once the person becomes used to the change. The person may also want to escape from a noisy or busy environment.

Loss of memory
Wandering may be due to a loss of short-term memory. A person with dementia may set off to go to the shop or a friend’s house, and then forget where they were going and why. They may forget that their partner has told them that they are going out for a while and set off in search of them.

Excess energy
Wandering can be a way of using up excess energy, which may indicate that the person needs more regular exercise.

Searching for the past
As people become more confused, they may wander off in search of someone or something related to their past; this may be a partner or other family member who has died, a lost friend or a house they lived in as a child.

Expressing boredom
As dementia progresses, people find it harder and harder to concentrate for any length of time. Wandering may be their way of keeping occupied.

Confusing night with day
People with dementia may suffer from insomnia or wake in the early hours and become disoriented. They may think it is daytime and decide to go out for a walk. Poor eyesight or hearing loss may mean shadows or night sounds become confusing and distressing.

Continuing a habit
People who have been used to walking long distances may simply wish to continue doing so.

Agitation
Changes that have occurred in the brain may cause a feeling of restlessness and anxiety. Agitation can cause some people to pace up and down, or to wander off with no apparent purpose. They may fail to recognize their own home and insist on leaving.

Discomfort or pain
Walking may ease discomfort, so it is important to find out if there is any physical problem or medical condition and try to deal with it. Tight clothing, excessive heat or needing to find a toilet can all cause problems.

A job to perform
Sometimes people leave the house because they believe they have a job to do or are confused about the time of day or the season. This may be related to a former role, such as going to work in the morning or being home for the children in the afternoon.

Dreams
An inability to differentiate dreams from reality may cause the person to respond to something that they dreamed, thinking that this has happened in real life.

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Land and Water Search and Rescue

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WILDERNESS SAR