November Is National Alzheimer's Awareness Month - Project Lifesaver Emphasizes Importance of Proactive Approach to Finding Those with Alzheimer's Disease Who Wander

Nov 09, 2010, 14:30 ET from Project Lifesaver International

Project Lifesaver Maintains Over 2,240 Searches with No Serious Injuries or Fatalities Ever Reported

CHESAPEAKE, Va., Nov. 9, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- It might be one of the worst feelings in the world – turning your back for one second in the grocery store, or at the mall, or in your own home – only to learn your loved one has disappeared and is nowhere to be found.

This is the reality that many Alzheimer's caregivers face throughout the country and nation.  However, during Alzheimer's Awareness Month, Project Lifesaver would like to emphasize the importance of a researching and implementing a proactive approach to finding those with Alzheimer's disease who wander.

"It's time for our public safety agencies, our caregivers, Alzheimer's-related organizations, and Alzheimer's advocates, to band together and recognize that Alzheimer's disease is here, it's growing, and although researchers are fighting every day to find a cure, Project Lifesaver can provide peace of mind in the meantime," said Gene Saunders, CEO and Founder of Project Lifesaver International.

The Project Lifesaver program relies on proven radio technology and specially trained search and rescue teams.  Citizens enrolled in Project Lifesaver wear a small transmitter that emits an individualized tracking signal.  When caregivers notify a local Project Lifesaver agency that the person is missing, a trained team responds to the wanderer's area and starts searching with a mobile locater tracking system.  Most who wander are found within a few miles from home, in approximately 30 minutes.

The statistics are truly staggering – experts estimate the number of people age 65 and older in the United States is projected to double to 72 million by 2030.  By age 72, approximately 1 in 8 Americans will have Alzheimer's disease.  

RECENT PROJECT LIFESAVER RESCUES

On November 1, a 75-year old male suffering from Alzheimer's disease wandered in Norfolk, Virginia.  Norfolk Sheriff's office units responded to the area and picked up a signal from the client's radio transmitter.  Another unit responded to the scene from an opposite direction and they were able to zero on a strong signal.  Officers found the missing person in approximately 12 minutes, and he was returned home in good condition.

On October 19, an 84-year old woman with Alzheimer's wandered in the Palm Beach Shores area of Florida.  The Palm Beach Shores Police Department was notified, and because the woman was a Project Lifesaver client, local officers began searching for her transmitter signal.  A helicopter was recruited, and with the combined effort of three local public safety agencies, the woman was found in approximately 14 minutes unharmed.

On October 5, Washington County Maryland's Project Lifesaver units were called in to assist with a missing 72-year old woman with Alzheimer's disease.  Fortunately, the woman was a Project Lifesaver client and units were able to respond the scene while using the equipment.  While en route to the point of last seen, an officer picked up a signal for a brief second and swung her vehicle around to follow the signal.  As she decreased speed and circled the block, the signal began to get stronger, and the officer saw the missing woman perched on a front stoop at a traffic intersection.  The woman was located within nine minutes of the call and returned home safely.

The effectiveness of Project Lifesaver speaks for itself, as this program drastically decreases the time spent on search and rescue, cuts down on manpower hours and resources, and greatly increases the likelihood the missing person will be found – and found alive.  Securing a proactive approach for your community could mean the difference between life and death.  

Discover ways you can bring Alzheimer's awareness and support to your communities.  For more information on how to become involved in Project Lifesaver, please visit www.projectlifesaver.org.

About Project Lifesaver International

Established in 1999, Project Lifesaver International (PLI) is a non-profit organization that is committed to helping families quickly find their loved ones who wander because of Alzheimer's, Down syndrome, dementia, and autism. Headquartered in Chesapeake, Va., Project Lifesaver works with local law enforcement agencies in more than 1,000 communities in 46 states, the District of Columbia and Canada to protect some of society's most vulnerable citizens. PLI provides training and support to all agencies and continues to work with organizations on education and awareness regarding the issue of wandering. Visit www.projectlifesaver.org.

SOURCE Project Lifesaver International



RELATED LINKS

http://www.projectlifesaver.org/