TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The number of people with dementia who wandered from home and were reported missing in Japan reached a record 16,927 last year, nearly doubling since police began collecting data in 2012, the National Police Agency said Thursday.
Reflecting the rapid aging of society, the figure has set new records every year. It was up 1,064 in 2018 from 2017.
Of the nearly 17,000 people who wandered off in 2018, 197 could not be found by the end of the year, while 16,227, including those reported missing in 2017 or earlier, were located, according to the police data.
With around 7 million elderly people in Japan expected to be suffering from dementia in 2025, when all baby boomers will be aged 75 or over, the government approved Tuesday a new program on dementia that focuses on delaying the onset of symptoms and slowing the progress of the illness as well as helping patients live more comfortably.
The data showed that 73.4 percent of wandering dementia sufferers were found on the day that their disappearance was reported to police while 99.4 percent were located within a week. Two people were found more than two years after they were reported missing.
In the meantime, 508 missing dementia patients died in accidents or due to other reasons, the data showed.
The overall number of people who went missing last year, including those not suffering from dementia, reached 87,962, the highest in a decade. Those in their 20s were the leading age group at 18,518. Of the total, 64.1 percent were male and 35.9 percent female.
By reason, diseases including dementia were the largest cause of disappearances, accounting for 23,347, or 26.5 percent, followed by family problems at 14,866, or 16.9 percent, and business troubles at 10,980, or 12.5 percent.