Project Lifesaver can help keep loved ones with Alzheimer’s, dementia safe

(WIAT) — This year, Alabama has seen multiple cases of people with Alzheimer’s or dementia wandering away from their homes, sometimes with deadly consequences.

Early this year, Lamar Putnam went missing from west Georgia, and James Morrison disappeared from Bessemer. The bodies of both men were found weeks later in Central Alabama. Their families said they had simply driven away from home and never found their way back.

In December, Virginia Grass wandered away from her Saint Clair County home. Her body was found less than a mile away a little over a day later.

These tragedies are only on the rise, says Miller Piggott, Executive Director of Alzheimer’s of Central Alabama. She says about 60 percent of people suffering from Alzheimer’s wander, and many cannot remember how to get home.

There are some devices and programs that can help, though, Piggott says. That includes the Project Lifesaver bracelet, available through many local sheriff’s departments.

“A bracelet that emits a radio tracking signal that can help find a patient if they are lost. The sheriff’s department is going to send out a search party and they have equipment that help them triangulate and locate that person based on their unique radio tracking signal,” Piggott said.

However, Piggott says that will not help in cases where the patient drove away from home, like in the Putnam and Morrison cases.

“They need to be willing to take the car keys away, when someone, a family member is at risk. Many times, families realize there’s a risk, but they’re reluctant to take the steps to take the car keys away. It’s really important to keep folks safe, because the consequences can be dire,” Piggott said.

You can find more resources by visiting the Alzheimer’s of Central Alabama website at http://alzca.org/.

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