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Dementia patient found wandering in the cold in Hubbard County

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news Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

A dementia patient who wandered away from an assisted care facility Tuesday night was found after authorities used a thermal imager from a Minnesota State Patrol airship to locate him.

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Temperatures were hovering around 40 degrees when the man went missing from Care-Age Country Home.

"The likelihood of the subject surviving the night because of low temperatures would have been slim," said Patrol Lt. Matt Langer in a news release.

The facility, three miles southeast of Park Rapids, has 21 residents, said administrator Lynn Niemeyer, who owns the home with her husband Chris.

"In 21 years, we've never had someone wander away," she said. "We're not a locked facility so residents can come and go as they wish."

Niemeyer said the staff noticed the man missing just after the evening meal had been served and immediately began looking for him, calling in authorities.

He was located one-half mile south of a residence in a wooded area, a quarter-mile from Care-Age.

Employees of the facility contacted the Hubbard County Sheriff's Office for assistance in locating Hanson.

The man, identified as 64-year-old Gary Hanson, was taken to St. Joseph's Area Health Services in Park Rapids to be examined for possible hypothermia and kept overnight. The Sheriff's Department said he was wearing sweatpants and a knit shirt when he left the facility.

"We went to see him this morning and he was doing fine," Niemeyer said. "We're thankful it worked out well."

She said the man's family will likely make other arrangements for him in a more secured facility.

Hanson suffered from Parkinson's and some dementia, Niemeyer said. The reason he wandered away was not known.

"He could have been upset or confused," she said.

Care-Age staff keep a watchful eye on the residents who have some form of dementia, she said. Of the 21 residents, five or six fit into that category.

The facility is located in a wooded area off Highway 34.

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