Three out of every five individuals with Alzheimer’s disease will wander, and half of them will suffer from significant injury or death if they are not found within 24 hours.
The Wood County Sheriff’s Office has put into place a public safety program designed to protect and locate loved ones that are missing due to wandering.
Memory cells are destroyed by Alzheimer’s disease, resulting in a person frequently becoming disoriented or lost, even in a place that is familiar to them. Individuals suffering from any kind of dementia, even in the early stages, can easily become confused for a period of time, and begin wandering.
Common reasons for wandering include: when an individual is looking for something familiar; or he/she is trying to get out of a stressful or an over stimulating situation. Wandering is especially dangerous for individuals with dementia. Individuals with Alzheimer’s do not call out for help, they rarely respond to people calling out to them, and until they are found, they are defenseless against inclement weather, traffic and predators.
Continued from E-Newsletter
There are practices that can be put into place to reduce the risk of a person wandering, but it is also a good idea to have a plan in place in case a loved one does wander and he/she cannot be located. The Wood County Sheriff’s Office has implemented a program called Project Lifesaver to provide peace of mind to caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. If an individual becomes lost, Project Lifesaver helps to ensure he/she will be brought home quickly and safely.
A candidate for Project Lifesaver will be assessed by a specialist and then fitted with a transmitter wristband. This one-ounce battery operated wristband emits a tracking signal every second of every day. In the event that an individual wanders away, the caregiver notifies the Sheriff’s Office and help will be immediate dispatched.
The wristband’s signal can be tracked by members of the Sheriff’s Office on the ground or from the air. The search team uses a specially designed radio receiver to identify a unique frequency from the wristband that allows the team to find the individual within minutes. The Project Lifesaver team is trained in rescue operations and also trained on how to approach a person with Alzheimer’s disease, gain their trust, and put them at ease to bring them home safely.
Project Lifesaver is an option for individuals of any age with Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Autism, Down Syndrome, or other cognitive conditions. Project Lifesaver provides peace of mind to caregivers and can ensure that loved ones can be found and returned to their home as quickly and as safely as possible.
For more information on Project Lifesaver, contact the Wood County Sheriff’s Office at (419) 354-9001 or visit http://woodcountysheriff.com/services/project-lifesaver/, or contact the Wood County Committee on Aging’s Social Services Department at (419) 353-5661 or (800) 367-4935.