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Project Lifesaver

There are over 5 million people in the US diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Dementia and that number is expected to climb to an estimated 15 million by 2030. Statistics show that 59% of all AD patients have a tendency to wander and 72% do so repeatedly, wandering is one of the most common behaviors found in AD. If a patient is not found within 24 hours there is only a 50% chance they will be found alive. What can we do to keep these clients safe? BCSO has an incredible program supported by a non profit organization called Project Lifesaver, TRIAD for Brevard Seniors.

The Project Lifesaver Program is available to the community at a small cost.  It is an extremely valuable service that was developed in the 1990’s starting with 10 clients in Virginia. The program was an immediate success recovering lost clients within 30 minutes and is now operating in 41 states. Participants are given a wrist or ankle bracelet that has a transmitter inside giving off a radio frequency signal. It is very similar to the black box in airplanes and can be detected even under water. Clients must meet strict criteria to be in the program including being diagnosed with dementia, down’s syndrome, or autism, have no driving privileges or access to a car, and have a 24 hr caregiver.

If a client goes missing, the family calls 911 and identifies that the missing person is a part of the program. Deputies will then go towards the area and turn on their radios that detect the frequency, they will search land, air and water if necessary. The program has 100% success rate recovering over 1500 lost clients alive. The Program is coordinated by Deputy Joseph Downs who will contact applicants after the application is complete to meet with them in the home. People who are interested should go to BREVARDTRIAD.ORG, click projects and download the application and brochure for PLS. The program asks participants to pay a $100 annual fee for the replacement of batteries to the unit but there is no charge for the bracelet. Supporting diagnosis will need to be confirmed with your physician as part of the application and one of the highlights in my opinion is having Deputy Downs come to the home to apply and activate the bracelet, he will make suggestions and do teaching with the family for other ways we can keep these high risk patients safe. As a homecare nurse I am aware that many times the family is having a hard time caring for the client and may not fully understand the risks in keeping a client in the home with Alzheimer’s. I feel like getting to know Deputy Downs and more about his program has given me another wonderful resource that I’m happy to share.

If you have any further questions you can contact the BCSO Community Services Division at 321-264-7755.

Traci Graf

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