System would help find those who wander off
Most of us are probably familiar with the promotions for emergency notification devices that allow the elderly to live alone but still get help if they have fallen or otherwise become incapacitated.
The elderly wear the devices that they can activate when needed so rescuers can respond. It can be a real life-saver.
The Yuma County Sheriff's Office wants to do something similar for those who have Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia that causes them to become disoriented when outside of familiar surroundings.
Recently, an 82-year-old man with dementia wandered away from home and was only found after a seven-hour search by authorities. It is something that has also happened with other individuals, which is why the sheriff's office maintains a file of those who are known to have similar problems and become lost.
It is not a casual issue. Often they are elderly and need medications or other help. They can die while lost.
Sheriff's officials are looking into ways to make it easier to find them by using tracking devices that families would rent and have their loved ones wear. The bracelets or other devices would have GPS built into them, making it easier for searchers to find them.
Families would alert the sheriff's office when it was discovered a loved one was missing, and they would begin searching while watching for the GPS signal from the device.
It is not a perfect system. It doesn't work if the individual removes the device, and it has a limited range.
But it is better than searching blindly and holds the possibility of reducing the time needed to find the elderly person.
There is an expense, however. The basic system costs about $5,000 to $6,000, and each tracking bracelet costs about $350. Rental fees should help offset some of the cost. The sheriff's office hopes to have the system in place in the near future.
It is a worthwhile expenditure that could help families get their loved ones back and reduce the number of hours needed for searchers to find them.