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Operation "Safe Return"

A Solution for Wanderers

Reasons for Wandering

A person with Alzheimer's may tend to wander when he or she:

  • No longer recognizes familier people, places or objects
  • Feels lost in a new or changed environment
  • Tries to fulfill former obligations, such as going to work or taking care of a child.
  • Takes medications that have side effects such as restlessness and confusion
  • Is fearful of unfamiliar signs, sounds or hallucinations
  • Searches for something specific such as food, drink, the bathroom or companionship
  • Is restless due to a lack of physical activity
  • Tries to relieve stress caused by noise, crowds or isolation

Tips to Keep Wanderers Safe

  • Install slide bolts on top or bottom of doors away from eye level
  • Place bell or alarm on doors leading to the outside
  • Camouflage the door with a curtain or screen
  • Sew reflectors on the sleeves or pant legs to aid police searching for a wanderer
  • Hide such articles as glasses, shoes or handbag - items the wanderer would not leave home without
  • Alert neighbors that a memory-impaired person lives at the home
  • Have a current picture of the individual in case he or she gets lost. A video also would be helpful
  • Use a "toddler monitor," a small device that attaches to clothing that will set off an alarm should the person go outside
  • Dress the person in bright clothing for easy identification
  • Keep an article of unwashed clothing to retain the scent for police search dogs

Operation "Safe Return" - The Solution!

One solution is to enroll in a national program that provides a bracelet that helps Alzheimer's sufferers get home safely. Safe Return is a national, government-funded program of the Alzheimer Association that assists in the identification and safe, timely return of individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias who wander off, sometimes far from home, and become lost.

The program was started in 1993 and since that time, more than 81,000 people nationally have registered for the program and nearly 100 percent of participants who've been reported missing (nearly 7,000 people) have been safely returned.

The slender bracelet around the wrist identifies someone who is memory-impaired, listiing a toll-free hotline to call if they are found wandering. You read the braclet's ID number to the operator and the person's name is revealed, as well as how to contact someone who knows them to get them back home safely.

You can obtain a brochure from the National Alzheimer's Association by calling toll-free: 888-572-8566 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time, weekdays). You must mail a photo after registering. Cost for the program is $40, and caregiver jewelry is $5.

For more information and to register, go to: http://www.alz.org/.

The Alzheimers Book Shelf - Featuring a listing of over 100 books about Alzheimers disease, plus a link to nearly 800 more.
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