OMAHA (kptm) - An 88-year-old Omaha woman suffering from dementia was found next to a busy road near Lake Cunningham Tuesday afternoon. Authorities said she didn't know who she was. Her family has now come forward and identified her. Fox 42 News spoke with experts that said dementia is a growing problem that we all need to learn more about.An employee with the Douglas County Department of Roads spotted the woman wandering along the side of the road. He thought she looked lost, so he contacted authorities immediately.Investigators said 88-year-old Aldona Bulkaitis left her home in Lake Cunningham Hills and was heading for a busy roadway. The man that spotted her found her staring at Interstate 680. He thought something was wrong so he called authorities. Cheryl Price said he did the right thing and encourages others to be on the lookout for those needing help."Someone that looks a little disoriented, maybe someone who doesn't have a lot on them. A lot of times they will just leave wherever it is that they call home, whether that's a private home or a community with no purse, no jacket in the winter, sometimes even no shoes, so someone who's inappropriately dressed maybe not looking like they're familiar with where they're at."While the good news is, investigators identified her rather quickly; Price said the number of elderly people suffering from dementia is rising."Our aging population is really starting to expand and it's only going to expand more in the future, just because people are living longer and once we reach 85 years old, we have a 50/50 chance of actually having dementia or Alzheimer's, so this is really going to become an epidemic in the near future for our country."The Alzheimer's Association said early detection is important. It said if you see someone you love having difficulty completing familiar tasks, trouble understanding visual images, challenges in planning or solving problems, confusion with time or place, or memory loss that disrupts daily life, consult a physician. Price said it's best to be present in their reality"and it really means, don't fight them on what they believe to be real or what they believe to be true, just kind of take that ride with them."Price said if you believe a dementia patient needs help, be patient with them, contact emergency services, and someone will be there to help you. If you're interested in knowing more about dementia or Alzheimer's or if you would like to take a training course on caring for those patients, contact Home Instead Senior Care at 402-498-3444.
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