Alzheimer’s program helps find wandering loved ones

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Weekly, police and sheriff’s departments issue silver alerts for adults with dementia who wander.

“Most families don’t worry about [wandering]. They think ‘Oh, my person won’t,'” says Eric VanVlymen, Executive Director of the Miami Valley and Dayton area Alzheimer’s Association.

As dementia progresses, people lose track of where they are, get confused, and want to take off. More than half of people with dementia wander, and it can happen in a matter of seconds.

“You can turn your back, move to a different place in the house, come back, and that person suddenly is out the door,” says VanVlymen.

Before it becomes a problem, the Alzheimer’s Association suggests signing up for its Medic Alert + Safe Return program.

“It’s basically a bracelet that has a 1-800 number on it,” describes VanVlymen.

Ahead of time, the person’s picture and information is stored, and police are notified if he or she ever goes missing. Caregivers can call the 1-800 number if their loved one wanders off, and a support network is activated.

“If a person is out in the community, and they find that Medic Alert + Safe Return band, they can see an 800 number, and then if they call, they will be connected to the family,” states VanVlymen. “A lot of times these people don’t carry ID. Sometimes if they’re confused, they don’t even know who they are or where they live, so it’s really a great product.”

The Alzheimer’s Association says most people signed up with the program are found within a couple hours. It’s a simple but easy approach to prevent something from happening before it’s too late.

“It’s just when it’s taken too long for people to start searching, then that’s where the problems start,” states VanVlymen.

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