HEALTH

Help for Alzheimer's patients who wander

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Caster Lett had driven her husband, retired military Charles Lett, to the Bolling Air Force Base commissary to shop.

Charles, who has dementia, wanted to stay in the car. But when his wife came back out, he was gone.

“I didn't know whether he could be found somewhere shriveled up, or frozen. And that's what really scared me,” says Caster Lett.

The 76-year-old Temple Hills man had walked off base and gotten onto a Metro bus. For the next eight hours, he rode around and around while his family and police frantically searched.

He was found well after midnight, on the bus, safe. But such wanderings are happening more and more.

“Sixty percent of the 225,000 people in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. will wander--those who've been diagnosed with Alzheimer's,” says Susan Kudla Finn of the Alzheimer’s Association National Capital Area chapter.

It can end tragically. Last year, an elderly Pennsylvania couple were found frozen to death in Frederick County, Md. after they got lost driving home.

There is help. The Alzheimer's Association's Safe Return Program, for instance, is a nationwide emergency response system. The person with dementia and caregiver both wear medallions with ID and phone numbers. And some local police offer "Project Lifesafer" tracking devices and monitoring systems.

As for Charles Lett, he says he doesn’t recall much from his ordeal. But his family sure does.

For more information, check out the links below.

Alzheimer's Association National Capital Area
1-800-272-3900 HELPLINE

Medicalert and Safe Return program
1-888-572-8566

Comfort Zone GPS Tracking

Project Lifesaver

 

 

 

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