A Descriptive Study of Elderly Patients With Dementia Who Died Wandering Outdoors in Kochi Prefecture, Japan

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Abstract

This was a descriptive study of elderly persons with dementia who were found dead after becoming lost in the community. Nineteen forensic autopsy cases were performed at Kochi Medical School, Japan. The mean age of the patients (9 males and 10 females) was 82.1 ± 6.6 years. Causes of death were drowning (n = 8), trauma (n = 5), hypothermia (n = 2), and debilitation possibly due to fatigue (n = 1) or were unknown (n = 3). Thirteen (68%) individuals had been reported missing, most at least 6 hours after they had left. They moved on foot (n = 14), by car (n = 3), or by bicycle (n = 2). Distances from residences to spots of death ranged from 20 to 5800 m for 11 patients on foot. In 8 cases, it was less than 500 m. The study has potential implications for enabling their early discovery and protection.

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