A 79-year-old Bend man disappeared on Monday after a drive to a store in the Old Mill. Fortunately, Richard Brownrigg was found safely the next day -- 240 miles away, in Coos Bay.
This isn't the first time something like this has happened, and if you have an aging parent, it can be a tough issue to face and resolve.
Back in January, three elderly Central Oregon men went missing within weeks of each other. In all three cases, they were found safely within a few hours.
Some of them, though, drove off in a car, like Brownrigg.
The answer can seem simple to some: Don't let them drive. But it can be anything but simple to make that happen in many families without major conflict.
Deschutes County Mental Health Specialist Tim Malone said Wednesday this kind of dangerous disappearance happens more than we think.
“I’m not surprised to hear it," he said. "It happens more often then it hits the news. Hearing about it is good, though. I’m glad it made the news, because it is a serious issue.”
There are some warning signs specifically with the link between driving and dementia you can look out for:
-He or she drives too slow or fast for conditions.
-They have difficulty with left-hand turns.
-They show high levels of anxiety while driving.
-They take too long to get to a destination
Malone says it’s a sensitive topic and, “to even approach the subject can be a gigantic family issue, so families (are) very reluctant to do it.”
Fox Hollow Assisted Living deals with dementia patients every day, and Catherine Bolster said, “Well, if the family knows there is some dementia, you just got to put some safeguards into place right off the bat.”
Experts suggest taking their license, keys, or even disabling their car may be the best option in some situations.
Malone says it’s easier said than done: “Learn how to have the courage to step forward and say, ‘Dad, things are happening here. It’s time to make some change.’”