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LA County Celebrates Year Anniversary Of Program That Tracks People With Alzheimer's, Dementia

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA)  -- Many people who suffer from dementia, Alzheimer's or autism can walk away and get lost.

A program called "LA Found" is celebrating a one-year anniversary and by all accounts it's a major success.

People who have Alzheimer's, for example, are fitted with a small monitoring bracelet.

A tragedy led to the great idea coming to fruition.

"I lost my wife, she wandered from a family outing we had," Kirk Moody told CBS2/KCAL9's Rachel Kim.

Moody's wife Nancy Paulikas was last seen in Oct. 2016 during a visit to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Nancy, who had Alzheimer's, wandered away from Kirk and was last seen on security cameras walking on nearby streets. More than two years later, her death was confirmed after her remains were found in a Sherman Oaks park. While the cause and manner of Nancy's death remain undetermined, her disappearance became the inspiration for "LA Found" - a countywide program.

"We had a tremendous number of volunteers looking for her, but despite those efforts we weren't able to find her. Supervisor Hahn found out about that and she got very concerned and thought the county should have a more coordinated response to that," Moody says.

LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn launched the program.

LA Found
(credit: the LA Found website)

Each bracelet corresponds with a unique radio frequency. When a person wearing the bracelet goes missing, the LA County Sheriff's Department Mental Evaluation Team uses a handheld receiver or helicopter-mounted receiver to track the person's location. Since the program launched a year ago, a dozen people with bracelets went missing and all 12 were found safely.

"Makes me know that this has been an absolutely successful program and I hope more people know about it and take advantage of it," Hahn says.

"From the time the LA County Sheriff's came and to the time my husband was back at my door, was no longer than 15 minutes. The program works so well and I would highly recommend anyone who has loved ones that wander, please utilize the program," says Rose Vargas.

LA Found is available to all LA county residents. If you're a caretaker of someone prone to wander you can get more information about the program by clicking here.

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