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Missing Brooklyn Park man with Alzheimer's disease found dead

Sylvester Smith is believed to have walked out of his home on Saturday morning.
Sylvester Smith

A search for a missing man in the Brooklyn Park area came to a sad end Sunday morning with the discovery of a body.

Sylvester Smith, an 89-year-old who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, was reported missing Saturday morning, after his family woke up to discover him gone. According to a news release from Brooklyn Park police, Smith is believed to have walked out of the home.

Authorities organized a search effort comprised of public safety officials and volunteers, which looked for Smith throughout the weekend. This morning, searchers found him deceased.

Few details are available at this stage, including where Smith's body was found. His exact cause of death will be determined by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner.

The compulsion to wander is common amongst those suffering from Alzheimer's. According to the Mayo Clinic, this may be caused by a range of things associated with the disease, including stress and fear, restlessness, or simply becoming disoriented and losing their way.

"Wandering is one of the most dangerous behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s disease," the BrightFocus Foundation notes, saying it can post serious risks to patients, including lethal exposure to harsh weather. 

The foundation says 6 in 10 people with Alzheimer's disease are at risk of wandering.

Luckily, a number of tactics have been devised to help caregivers prevent wandering behavior, or at least reduce the risk associated with it. The Alzheimer's Association has a list of them right here

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