Consider this real-life case. An Arvada senior citizen with mild but progressive Alzheimer’s disease takes short morning walks to a nearby store in order to buy cigarettes. On this day he does not return home as expected. His wife calls 911 and a search begins. After about an hour, several more police units are added to the search and the area is expanded. Four hours into the search tensions mount as colder, cloudy, wet weather approaches. More search resources are added. Just before evening, a relative of the man finds him more than five miles away at a shopping center in the opposite direction of his usual route. A collective sigh of relief and thanks are given, but many police resources and much time were devoted to this important effort.
A month later the above situation repeats itself. He has wandered again and not returned home. His wife calls 911. Two units are dispatched to the area, and he is located and returned safely home within 20 minutes.
What’s the difference between the two events?
In the second case our senior is now participating in a program called Colorado Life Trak (formerly Project Lifesaver). This program uses nationally recognized technology to quickly locate an at-risk person who may wander and become lost. A person qualifies to participate in Colorado Life Trak if they, regardless of age, have a medical or cognitive condition that places them at risk to wander and become lost. Examples may be Alzheimer’s disease in older adults, and Down’s Syndrome or autism in children. The participant wears a small transmitter about the size and shape of a wristwatch. This transmitter sends out a constant signal on a unique, individualized frequency. This signal can be quickly located by specialized tracking equipment thus returning the at-risk person to their home, usually within minutes instead of hours!
Here’s the good news. In cooperation with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, the Arvada Police Department has received a State grant in order to provide this service to our City. Starting in late September of 2008, the Colorado Life Trak technologies are now available at the Arvada Police Department to help families whose loved ones are at risk of wandering. Eligibility for participation is determined through a home visit to assure a good match. A signed agreement, a simple daily home test of the transmitter, and a daily log are also required of the caregiver. This technology is not cheap, but thanks to the grant, there is no cost to families. For further information please contact the Arvada Police Department Senior Liaison Officer at 720-898-6700.