It’s a fact that six out of ten people with dementia will wander at some point during the disease. A person with Alzheimer’s or dementia may not remember his or her name or address and can easily become disoriented in familiar places. Although it may seem that a person is just wandering around aimlessly they are often trying to go somewhere for a specific reason or purpose.
It is very important that we allow persons who have a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s to remain as independent as possible, while ensuring their safety. Over the last several years there has been an increase in the number of products that use technology to monitor the whereabouts of individuals with dementia or other conditions like autism or developmental disabilities.
One of the most popular products is a locator app. This is a piece of software that operates through a browser or offline on your computer, phone, tablet or any other electronic device. Once you download the app, you can keep track of the person. These tracking devices sound like a great solution, and are appealing, but often are not as practical in real life situations. They usually require charging, sometimes daily or overnight. In addition to the purchase fee there is usually a monthly fee based on usage or the specific plan offered. The cost is out of reach for many families.
Sometimes these tracking devices are not specific about where the person actually is, whether they are walking, driving or taking public transportation. Because of the unreliability of GPS (Global Positioning Systems), alarmingly, it may appear as though the individual is walking on, or is in the water only because they are near a river. In high rise buildings it might not be possible to determine what floor the individual is on. And it is important that the person with Alzheimer’s remembers to take the device with them in order for the caregiver to keep track of them. As the disease progresses and a person’s cognitive ability declines they might not remember to take a phone or other tracking device. Some tracking devices are put in shoes, however it is not uncommon for a person to wander barefoot because they didn’t remember to put their shoes on.
Caregivers, ask yourself, what do you have to rely on if this were to happen? What is your backup identification product?
CaringKind offers the MedicAlert® NYC Wanderer’s Safety Program identification product. The Wanderer’s Safety Program provides a low-tech identification bracelet which is easy to apply for, and is very effective when a person’s wrist is measured correctly and the product is worn on the dominant wrist. Our product has a unique and secure latch design making it extremely difficult to remove.
The Wanderer’s Safety Program enrolls over 125 new members monthly. Because a missing person incident is so often emotional and stressful for the family, the Wanderer’s Safety Program team will reach out to the caregiver providing support, understanding and a compassionate ear until the missing person is found.
We average three to five missing person incidents, including Silver Alerts, on a weekly basis and continue to have a 98% success rate. The Wanderer’s Safety Program is proud to be a part of the New York City Police Department’s Patrol Guide. Emergency responders are trained to report all “Special Missing Category Incidents” to the MedicAlert 24/7 Emergency Hotline. We operate as a live 24-hour emergency response service for any person with dementia who experiences a medical emergency, or who may wander and become lost.
At the time of enrollment, we ask caregivers to provide the member’s physical characteristics, list of medications, conditions and any known allergies. We also request a current photo. This information is kept confidential in our MedicAlert NYC Wanderer’s Safety Program National Database and is only given to the police or emergency room staff.
Another feature we offer is an optional caregiver membership and medical identification product (bracelet or necklace). Caregiver membership includes the same benefits as for the enrollee. Caregivers wear a MedicAlert NYC identification product to alert others that she or he provides care for a MedicAlert member who is memory impaired.
Our MedicAlert NYC Wanderer’s Safety product saves lives and is a great complement to higher tech tracking and locator devices.
For more information, call 646-744-2900 or visit caringkindnyc.org/wandersafety.