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Alzheimer News 1/29/09
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Association statement on National Silver Alert Act

The Alzheimer's Association commends Reps. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) and Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) for introducing the National Silver Alert Act (H.R. 632) in the House of Representatives. The National Silver Alert Act seeks to create systems that provide families a way to locate lost or missing seniors who may be endangered. The Alzheimer's Association applauds their leadership in shedding light on an important issue that impacts an estimated 5.2 million Americans who are living with Alzheimer's disease.

Today six out of 10 people with Alzheimer's disease will wander from their homes or caregiving facilities at some point as the disease progresses. If not found within a 24-hour period, up to half will suffer serious injury or death. Even in one's own neighborhood or a place that is familiar, the person living with Alzheimer's may become disoriented and lost, and 94 percent of people with Alzheimer's disease who wander are found within just over a mile from his or her place of residence or last location seen.

The Alzheimer's Association supports a comprehensive approach to the creation of a system that would address the needs of persons with dementia and their families. This approach would include authorizing grants for law enforcement dementia training that would not only contain a wandering prevention component but would also coordinate efforts between families, caregivers, and local authorities. The system would need to be interoperable with existing programs such as MedicAlert® +Alzheimer's Association's Safe Return® program. MedicAlert + Safe Return is a nationwide identification, support and enrollment program that provides assistance when a person with Alzheimer's or a related dementia has wandered and becomes lost either locally or far from home. In addition to helping those who have wandered, the program also provides first respondents with vital medical history that may be necessary to treat the person with Alzheimer's who may not be able to communicate the information.

As the threat of Alzheimer's disease continues to touch more people's lives, the safety and security of those with Alzheimer's or dementia-related illnesses will continue to be a concern to us all. In order to address this growing population, the Alzheimer's Association remains committed to working with lawmakers to ensure that safety issues are raised in the context of comprehensive federal and state Alzheimer's disease planning that better acknowledges the unique needs of the cognitively impaired. The most effective system will include collaboration and cooperation between families, all levels of government, and organizations that support local communities, like the Alzheimer's Association.

The Alzheimer's Association
The Alzheimer's Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's. For more information, visit www.alz.org

MedicAlert + Safe Return Program
Established in 1993, the Alzheimer's Association's Safe Return® program is a nationwide identification, support and enrollment program that provides assistance when a person with Alzheimer's or a related dementia has wandered by notifying local law enforcement and local Alzheimer chapters to assist in locating the missing individual. For over 50 years, MedicAlert® has protected and saved lives by providing identification and medical information in emergencies. In 2007, the organizations joined forces to create MedicAlert® + Safe Return®. Through this alliance, MedicAlert® + Safe Return® has increased its outreach and awareness efforts to proactively protect its 160,000 enrollees and facilitate over 16,000 reunions. For more information, visit: www.alz.org/we_can_help_medicalert_safereturn.asp.

Alzheimer's Association
Media line: 312.335.4078
E-mail: media@alz.org


Alzheimer's Association

Our vision: A world without Alzheimer's disease®.
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.