16710 Smokey Point Blvd. Suite 304
Arlington WA 98223
Cascade Companion Care

If you are expecting a tip about the futures market in silver, I am sorry to disappoint you!  This silver alert may be just as valuable, however.

Most of us are aware of the Amber Alert program, a warning system that alerts citizens and law enforcement about a potential child abduction case, using highway LED displays and widely broadcast media announcements.

The state of Florida has implemented a similar program to respond to reports of memory impaired seniors who are missing.  The Silver Alert program is a partnership with law enforcement, media outlets, and community partners, aimed at quickly finding a wandering or confused senior, especially those who are behind the wheel of a car.  One success story was 84-year old Gisela Petrovia.  When she left her home in her car and did not return, a Silver Alert was issued.  A description of her car and the license plate number was flashed on highway signs with a number to call to report a sighting.  Soon afterwards, a family spotted the car and alerted authorities.  Gisela was disoriented and lost, driving slowly on a freeway with her emergency blinkers on.  Her story had a very happy ending.

How big is the problem?

According to the Snohomish County Sherriff’s Office, “It is estimated that 59% of people with Alzheimer’s disease will wander and become lost.  Many victims will wander repeatedly.  The dangers to a wanderer are numerous.  If an elderly Alzheimer’s patient is left outside for more than 24 hours, their chance of survival drops to 50% due to the risk of exposure. . . A lost person with Alzheimer’s or a related disease represents a critical medical emergency.”

What can be done to protect a senior who may wander by foot or car? 

*Supervision:  When it becomes clear that a loved one is no longer safe to be left alone, finding trustworthy supervision is essential.  Cascade Companion Care is able to provide sensitive in-home care that ensures a senior’s safety without limiting independence in areas of competence.  We also provide supervision in other settings, such as assisted living centers and rehabilitative centers.  Knowing that a dedicated pair of eyes is overseeing the activities of a confused, disoriented loved one is deeply reassuring.

*Alert “Jewelry”:  Just like the bracelets that alert medical personnel to conditions such as allergies and diabetes, there are bracelets that alert people that a senior has a condition causing cognitive impairment.  A woman in Lake Stevens told us about a kindly Community Transit driver, who recognized that his elderly passenger was confused and disoriented.  He checked her bracelet and notified family members that she had boarded a bus.  They were able to recover her safely.  Check your pharmacy for bracelets and pendants that can be personalized with the information that could be life-saving for your senior.

*High-tech Alerts:  GPS technology has made it possible to provide memory impaired seniors with watches, pendants, or other devices that beam their precise location to emergency responders.  A spouse reported her horror at finding that the husband she was patiently waiting for at the doctor’s office had actually slipped out a back door!  Fortunately, he was wearing a watch equipped with GPS technology that led the police to find him quickly!  In Snohomish County, Project Lifesaver provides a cognitively impaired senior with a one-ounce bracelet that emits a radio signal unique to the wearer.  When a caregiver or family member discovers that a senior has wandered, a call to 911 triggers a rapid response that uses the radio signal to locate the senior, usually in less than an hour!  For information about enrolling in this program, contact http://sheriff.snoco.org/Sheriff_Services/Project_Lifesaver.htm

If you have concerns about your loved one with memory impairment, please talk with one of our Care Coordinators to see how Cascade Companion Care can assist you in a strategy for safety!

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