MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness month and the state’s top law enforcement agency is encouraging the use of electronic bracelets to help locate people.
Today there are 90 thousand people across the state of Alabama with Alzeimer’s and about 60 percent of them will repeatedly wander and possibly become lost, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
With cold weather coming to Alabama, the awareness has heightened.
“Our elderly community, they struggle with circulation issues, so when they’re out in the cold they suffer from hypothermia very quickly so it’s even more important that we get to them as fast as possible,” said Cpl. Kent Smith with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
All 67 counties are participating in Project Lifesaver designed to help locate missing seniors, and individuals of all ages with Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder or other conditions that cause people to wander.
The program provides a waterproof transmitter bracelet for the individual who qualifies for the program. It also provides a receiver so sheriff’s offices and local police departments can locate the bracelet.
ALEA said many times these searches can take hours and use up a lot of manpower. However, with the program not as many resources are needed.
“Time is key in such searches, and our teams typically locate missing Project Lifesaver clients in a matter of minutes,” ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor said.
Smith shared how law enforcement rescued an elderly man wearing the bracelet who wandered off from home.
“We were able to spot him on the ground in a field and he was about a mile from his house, and he was actually to the point to where he was having to push himself on the ground because he was dehydrated and he was probably within so many hours of not surviving it," said Cpl. Kent Smith.
If sheriffs have trouble locating someone with the bracelet, they can call ALEA’s Aviation Unit, which will help rescue and find the person.
“The last thing we want is to issue a Missing Senior Alert for your loved one,” Taylor said. “Project Lifesaver participation gives us an opportunity to find them quickly and bring them home to you.”
The bracelets cost $300. Either the individual or the sheriff’s office helps pay for it.
Montgomery County currently has eight people using the bracelets, with two additional clients expected by the end of the year. The county pays for the bracelets.
In Madison County has 64 people enrolled in the Project Life Saver Program. The last two years they have had 15 recoveries with a 100 percent success rate in locating the person. There is no cost to the client for the bracelet. The Pilots Club of Huntsville and other sources pay for the costs associated with the project.
In 2018 ALEA issued 22 senior alters statewide, 20 alerts in 2017, and 25 in 2016.