NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas (KXAN) — The Silver Alert for 84-year old John Underwood was cancelled after the missing man was found safe and sound by law enforcement authorities in Hill County, Texas.
“I’ve been worried to death about where he was. Anything can happen and he got on the wrong highway,” said John’s wife Hilda Underwood just after she found out her husband was safe. “Everything is okay.”
Hilda says she never expected John to do anything like this. In 2012, Hilda changed roles from wife to nurse to take care of her husband John, that’s when doctors diagnosed him with Alzheimer’s. She says he forgets details of his life daily, and it happened again first thing Tuesday morning.
“He woke up and he was determined to go see his mother and dad who have been gone since the 1970’s. People with dementia and Alzheimer’s live in the past,” Hilda said.
John left right before 8 a.m. without his medicine and was found almost 200 miles away just a few hours later. Police say because the family had all the right documents, the process of getting law enforcement officers out and searching for John was extremely fast.
“The wife of this gentleman did have that information available along with a photo to get out on Twitter and Facebook,” said New Braunfels spokesperson David Ferguson.
Ferguson added that attention to details is key in locating someone who has gone missing. “If you have a family member that has some form of dementia, it’s probably a good idea to keep a current photo on hand of the person that has that diagnosis. You might want to keep some of their vital information around, not just their age but how tall they are and what color hair they have. You might want to try to keep an extra close eye on what they are wearing on that particular day should it be needed.”
Underwood had more than a photo and was prepared with medical documents, which are just one of many requirements by the Department of Public Safety needed to issue a silver alert. Along with medical documentation, you must prove the disappearance is due to their mental condition, it must always be reported within 72 hours and the disappearance must pose a credible threat to the senior citizen’s health or safety.
The medical document must be on a physician’s letterhead that includes the impaired mental condition, it must include the patient’s name and the date of diagnosis, and it must include the physician’s signature.
For Underwood, she was prepared with all that information and now wants others who care for those with Alzheimer’s or any other mental condition to be prepared as well. “Just make sure that you have something on hand that you can put your fingers on, because that’s the way police can get the word out.”
Police say John’s car was spotted by law enforcement in Hillsboro, a town just outside of Waco. His family was then able to reunite with him this afternoon.