IT'S nice to know we live in such a caring community.

When Roma Roberts wandered off from Metlifecare Retirement Village on Sunday it wasn't long before hundreds of people started pounding the pavement in search of her.

Police and LandSAR only have so many eyes to look with and they soon voiced their delight at how the community rallied to help.

Hearing helicopters overhead people came out of their homes and started searching their yards, outside buildings and sheds and then headed into the streets.


Missing for 19 hours there were obvious fears she could have fallen down or been hurt. As the weather turned nasty, those fears were heightened.

She was found by a person who went and checked their outside laundry. Mrs Roberts was asleep and no doubt confused when found.

It could have ended really badly.

Back in 2006, the outcome wasn't good when Rotorua visually-impaired woman Mabel Jamieson went missing. She was found seven days later, dead in long grass next to a garage on a vacant property.

I know if one of my elderly family members went missing I'd be stoked to know the community pulled out all stops to help look for them.

The more eyes looking, the more people informed and alerted to keep an eye out; the better.

But how do we stop this from happening to our elderly who have dementia of some form?

We can't bury our heads in the sand on this issue because as our population ages the problem is going to get worse, I'm sure.

Mrs Roberts lives in a retirement village in a self-care unit and we can't blame the staff there because she wasn't living in the rest home or hospital part of this rest home.

Will rest homes be able to cope with our ageing population of baby boomers in the future?

These are questions we need to address now - not when it suddenly dawns on us that we need more people in our communities taking care of these people.

We can't bury our heads in the sand on this one because we know the problem is just around the corner.

But to be grateful though, it's nice to know when the chips are down we can rely on each other to help. This what real community is about - caring.