The much-loved TV presenter, now 81, has been living with Alzheimer’s for four years and sparked a massive manhunt recently when he went missing for ten hours on the hottest day of the year

If you’re caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, you probably felt huge sympathy for Vicky Noakes, 71, when she reported her ex-Blue Peter presenter husband missing from their Spanish home in Andratx, Majorca, last month.

Safe returnWhen she realised he’d gone for a walk in temperatures nearing 100F (38C), Vicky was not surprisingly worried and jumped in her car to try to find him. The subsequent 10 hour search by land and sea included a mountain rescue team, firefighters, local police and many locals and expat friends.

Thankfully, John was found lying in a storm drain near a road (only a mile from home) and was airlifted to hospital suffering from dehydration and a weak heartbeat. John is now recovering at home and whilst the ordeal was no doubt traumatic for both him and Vicky, it also shows just how difficult it can be to care for a person with dementia.

An incident of this sort involving a much-loved celebrity brings the issue of wandering – a common symptom of dementia – into public awareness. However, there are ways to limit some of the stress caused by it. For example, making sure a loved one always carries ID or wears an ID bracelet can certainly help to keep them safe, and using a GPS tracking device – if they’re agreeable to it – might also prevent a whole lot of heartache.

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