Japan has a population of almost 29 million over-65s of which almost 9 million suffer from dementia or have some cognitive deficit.
More elderly drivers are involved in accidents; there are more elderly convicts in the prison system; and more elderly people are simply wandering off from their families or care homes.
Most of them eventually return home but there are some who have been found but can’t be identified; in one case it took the authorities seven years to reunite a women with her family despite her having identification on her. One man was found frozen to death only 500 m from his home after police delayed a search with dogs until the rain had washed away his traces.
The authorities seem ill-equipped and in some cases unwilling to deal with the problem. Kumiko Nagata from the Tokyo Dementia Care Research and Training Centre said “the ageing of society is going to continue and so the problem of wandering can be expected to get worse”