Help For Alzheimer's Caregivers

Alzheimers old man senility
Many relatives and friends are worried to leave Alzheimer's patients alone — with good reason. The Early Show has a look at a new tracking device called Project Lifesaver that may help alleviate the concern.

What is Project Lifesaver?
"Project Lifesaver was established about three-and-a-half years ago to address the needs of the growing problem of Alzheimer's patients who wandered," says Gene Saunders, Executive Director for Project Lifesaver. He points out that after putting lot of time, manpower and money into finding lost patients, many times the searches were not ending well.

How does the tracking system work?
"We place a radio wrist or radio ankle band on the person with the disorder and inside the band is a small radio transmitter. Each person has an individualized frequency, which we record and should this person get away from the caregiver we can respond to the area where the person was seen. With trained personnel and tuning in the frequency we can track and locate them." Saunders explains.

Of course patients will have to wear the devices at all times, so that as soon as the caregiver finds out the patient got lost, authorities can be notified.

Since the project has been implemented, there has been over 300 rescues in the United States, says Saunders. All have been successful and the average recovery time has been around 22 minutes.

What is the cost?
Those interested should call the police or sheriff's department and ask them if they participate in the Project Lifesaver program or call Project Lifesaver directly at 757-432- 4382. The cost for public safety agencies is about $5,200. Project Lifesaver provides the assistance equipment and training for the program. Normally most agencies will charge a monthly fee to the public for batteries and the band. On average it is $25 a month, Saunders says.

"Most of the caregivers we talk to say it's very inexpensive for the piece of mind they receive in being able to monitor their loved ones. The ultimate goal is to be able to obtain the funding from various sources so that we can place these where they are needed without charge," Saunders says.