Although African Americans make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population, we account for 33 percent of the missing in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s database. Cases involving African Americans also tend to receive less media coverage than missing Whites, with missing men of color getting even less attention.
NewsOne has partnered with the Black and Missing Foundation to focus on the crisis of missing African Americans.
To be a part of the solution, NewsOne will profile a missing person weekly and provide tips about how to keep your loved ones safe and what to do if someone goes missing.
Case Type: Endangered
Date of Birth: January 1, 1947
Missing Date: July 20, 2014
Age Now: 67
Missing City: Boston
Missing State: Massachusetts
Hair Color: Black
Hair Length: Short
Eye Color: Brown
Wear Glasses or Contacts: Yes
Location Last Seen: In the area of his home at 35 Lamson St. in East Boston.
Circumstances of Disappearance: Bullock suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease and has a history of wandering off. Medical experts say wandering is very common among people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, six out of 10 people with the condition will wander at some point.
Alzheimer’s signs include efforts to fulfill former obligations and going to work or taking regular walks or drives later than normal. It also includes inquiries about going home when the person is already at home. Other signs include difficulty locating familiar locations, such as the bedroom or bathroom, appearing lost in a new environment, and restlessness.
There are ways to prevent wandering, such as having a daily routine, identifying times when the individual is most likely to wander, and reassuring people who feel lost or disorientated. Moving locks out of the line of sight, camouflaging door knobs by painting them the same color as the door, and using some sort of device (whether a bell or an electronic alarm) to notify others when the door is opened.
Jed Levine, executive vice president of the of the New York City chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, said it’s very easy for someone with dementia to wander off.
“No matter how vigilant you are someone can slip away. If you turn your back while you are out shopping to pay a bill a relative with dementia might wander off that quickly,” Levine said in an interview with NewsOne.
If your cognitively impaired loved one does wander off, it’s crucial to begin searching immediately.
“Do a quick search of the immediate area. After that search is done, call 911 to make a report and make sure to tell police that the person is memory or cognitively impaired. If they have a recent photograph, give it to police,” said Levine.
Approximately 94 percent of people who wander off are found with 1.5 miles of the place they disappeared from.
Levine also said a program called the MedicAlert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return Program would be of great help if someone wanders off.
Enrolled individuals wear an identifying bracelet. If that person goes missing, loved ones can call a hotline that will provide assistance. Critical medical information will be given to emergency responders and whomever finds the wandering person can call a toll free number and primary caregivers will be notified. There is a fee for this program, but Levine said scholarships may be available.
It’s important for people caring for a cognitively impaired person to reach out for support.
“One of the most important things people can do is to get help and not try to do this on their own. Dealing with a relative who has dementia, especially one that is wandering, is an enormously stressful, 24 hour a day responsibility,” said Levine. “What I hear from families is once they make that call, they are glad they did.”
That’s especially important for African Americans to know because Blacks are two times more likely to have Alzheimer’s and dementia than Whites. Yet, Blacks are less likely to have a diagnosis of the condition, according to a 2010 study from the Alzheimer’s Association. African Americans are also more likely to be diagnosed with the disease later, limiting the effectiveness of known treatments.
African Americans also suffer from higher rates of high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Researchers believe those vascular conditions may contribute to the likelihood of acquiring the disease. Studies show that people with a history of high blood pressure or cholesterol are two times more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
There may also be a genetic component to the disease that behaves differently in African Americans than other groups.
In spite of these facts, Blacks remain underrepresented in clinical trials for drugs to treat the disease, according to a study from the Alzheimer’s Association. The group has launched an initiative to understand Alzheimer’s in African Americans, develop culturally appropriate and affordable assessment, diagnosis and care, and increase the participation of Blacks in clinical trials.
Last Seen Wearing: A light colored shirt, jeans, and black sneakers.
Identifying Marks or Characteristics: Known to wear glasses.
Anyone with information may contact Boston Police at (617) 343-4234 or the Black and Missing Foundation’s confidential Tip Line.
For more information about caring for a person with Alzheimer’s, visit the Alzheimer’s Association website or call their 24-hour hotline at 1 (800) 272 3900.