• The well known issue of wandering that occurs with Alzheimer’s and other dementia-afflicted patients is worrisome for caregivers. We lock doors from the outside. We keep watch at night and hire people to help us. Still, sometimes it happens. Sometimes a vulnerable, confused person goes missing.

    A few weeks back, I blogged about Safe Return, which is a product of the Alzheimer’s Association. A related product, available in over 400 communities, in 42 states, is an active search product called Project Lifesaver.

    Project Lifesaver combines radio technology with community rescue teams, including law enforcement. The person in need wears a personalized wristband that emits a tracking signal. This signal is sent continually, and can be tracked on the ground or by air over a several mile radius. Each wrist band has a unique radio frequency. When a caregiver notifies the local Project Lifesaver agency that a person is missing, a search and rescue team starts searching with the mobile locator tracking system.
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    Making Project Lifesaver a part of a community involves partnerships between local law enforcement, civic groups, businesses and caregivers to raise funds and educate the community. Team members are trained to work with the Alzheimer’s inflicted person, so that when the person is found, the proper approach is used to comfort him or her and return the person to safety.

    Project Lifesaver’s Web site is www.projectlifesaver.org. The site offers a map to show where Project Lifesaver is available. Also, there is background on the program, and it tells about ways to get involved and/or donate time or money. This seems like an important idea that communities should think about.

    Alzheimer’s related wandering is an issue that will only grow, as our population of elders increases. The more tools we have, the better. Project Lifesaver International, Inc. is based in Chesapeake, VA and the phone number is (757) 546-5502. Check out www.projectlifesaver.org to see what you think.

    Last reviewed by a physician specializing in Alzheimer's disease on 9/25/06.
Published On: September 25, 2006