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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Alzheimer's Patient, 83, Rides Bike 20 Miles, Saved by Tracking Bracelet

An article in the San Luis Obispo Tribune is titled "Alzheimer's Patient, 83, Rides Bike From Pismo to Santa Maria Before Being Found, Bracelet May Have Saved His Life." The Alzheimer's patient wore a Project Lifesaver Bracelet. Rob Bryn, Sheriff's Department, said, "He was 20 miles away, 83 years old on a bike. This is totally outside of the dementia profile for a search. We would have never found him."

The article was written by AnnMarie Cornejo and appeared on Monday, Dec. 10, 2007. Once again the importance of tracking bracelets for Alzheimer's sufferers is highlighted with this rescue.

It was the first time Mr. Joseph Taylor had gone that far from home. Usually when a person with dementia is missing the search is in the nearby area. The Project Lifesaver Bracelet can be tracked by land or air.

I was a caregiver for an Alzheimer's patient once who had also gone missing. While her husband was taking nap she left the house, walked downtown, and was picked up by tourists who spent the afternoon driving around town trying to find out who she was and where she lived. When they stopped at a local restaurant she was recognized by some old friends, and she was returned to her home.

In San Luis Obispo County there are two other Alzheimer's patients who have not been found, Janet DeFelice, 88, missing since June, 2007, and Vernon Erno, 82, missing since 2003.

The unpredictable aspect of Alzheimer's means that someone who has not previously wandered far from home could change and, as described, leave the area unexpectedly.

When I was in nursing school one of the teachers told the story of her mother, who had dementia. The mother lived in a locked facililty, but evidently slipped out when the doors were opened for some visitors. A search and rescue team covered the area. A call came in from a family who had returned to their unlocked home and found a strange woman taking a nap on the couch. Guessing she might be from the nearby nursing home they called there.

In my home area, San Luis Obispo County, California, The Poject Lifesaver Bracelets are worn by about 35 people but there are 5,000 people with dementia in the county.

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