Originally Published: June 29, 2016 6:01 a.m.
For more information about the bracelet program, visit the city website: www.prescott-az.gov/services/police
PRESCOTT – The successful search and rescue of an Alzheimer’s patient who wandered away from the nursing care facility where she lives on June 19 has prompted elder care and law enforcement officials to reiterate efforts that can be taken to help families and caregivers prepare against future scares.
One such protection is offered through the Prescott Police Department at no charge: a medical-alert style bracelet that family caregivers, home care workers or facility operators can arrange to obtain for their loved ones or clients. Raskin’s Jewelers provides and fits the bracelets to the individual so they are comfortable but are able to stay on their wrists on a permanent basis.
The bracelets identify the person through a code number on the front and the Police Department number on the back. The code number corresponds to a more detailed Alzheimer’s Alert form that families or caregivers fill out that list the individual’s name, address, phone number, physical description and any other pertinent medical information. That information is put into the department’s computer system so that if they get a call related to that individual they will have information that will help them return them to their home, or respond appropriately if called to an emergency situation.
Las Fuentes Village Executive Director Linda Villa said she would welcome the chance to share the bracelet program with her residents. Though her facility is not equipped as a memory care home, Villa said they do have seniors who could benefit from such identification in the event they had an emergency of any kind. She said she would welcome hosting a workshop for her residents to learn more about this program.
“The bracelets are a great idea … very, very valuable,” Villa said.
The Alzheimer’s Association states that six out of 10 people diagnosed with this illness will likely wander at some time or another, and a means of rapid identification for someone who might locate them is critical to their safety, local officials said. The regional office has estimated that there are more than 1,000 people in Prescott alone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia-related ailments.
In the case of Gerlean Mae Langford who wandered from Mountain View Manor, Prescott Police relied on the Yavapai County Code Red system and the Yavapai Search and Rescue dog teams that managed to find her about three hours after she was reported to be lost.
Carol White, who with her husband, Alan, and their rescue team dog, Nala, found Langford is quite familiar with the plight of those with Alzheimer’s disease as her own mother suffered from the disease. She now owns and operates Home Care Assistance, a home health care provider that specializes in offering cognitive therapy for those suffering from dementia-type illnesses.
Care for aging adults with Alzheimer’s or other dementia illness can be quite a challenge, and White and other health care facility professionals say these clients require one-on-one attention around the clock.
Several facilities say their clients are equipped in-house with bracelets that will sound an alarm and lock doors if a patient gets too near an entrance or exit. Still, even trained caregivers, and facilities equipped with lock-down features, agree there is no such thing as too much safety.
Nationally, law enforcement authorities say the number of missing person calls they receive for seniors with dementia are on the rise as the population ages. Sometimes a disappearance may be the catalyst that leads families to seek full-time care – either in-home or in a specialized care facility – for their loved one, officials said.
“We can’t protect our folks enough,” Villa concluded.