Local Law Enforcement Gets a Helping Hand from Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center
ADRC Joins Forces with Project Lifesaver to Assist the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office in Locating Wandering Alzheimer’s or Dementia Patients
BAY SHORE, NY — There are few things more frightening for a family than discovering that a loved one with a cognitive disorder has wandered away from home. As the hours go by, the hopes of finding these individuals start to dwindle. And, even if they are found, there is an increased risk of them straying once again.
Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center, Inc. (ADRC) has been working with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office in dealing with wandering adults with dementia as part of the Project Lifesaver program. A non-profit organization, Project Lifesaver aims to increase the location and recovery rate for those who wander off due to Alzheimer’s, dementia, Down syndrome, autism and other related cognitive conditions. Accomplishing this in a timely fashion not only reduces the possibility of injury, but has proven to be life-saving.
To further the agency’s efforts, ADRC has provided informative palm cards to help officers on patrol determine whether a person they’ve located is showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease. The Suffolk Sheriff’s Office has since provided these cards to other law enforcement agencies on Long Island. “When we do these presentations with the Sheriff’s Office, they always request the palm card,” says Mary Ann Malack-Ragona, Executive Director/CEO, ADRC. “They use them extensively, and so do we.”
This relationship began in March when ADRC invited representatives from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office to participate in ADRC’s Annual Education Conference & Expo. Subsequent to the Conference, Joan Motley, Outreach Coordinator for ADRC, invited the Sheriff’s representatives to speak at ADRC’s Caregiver Support Groups. The Sheriff’s Office conducted six presentations at ADRC’s caregiver support groups, which resulted in many families enrolling their loved ones in the program. ADRC has offered a courtesy table to the Sheriff’s Office at the West End Walk, which was held in August, where attendees learned about the importance of the Project Lifesaver program. The Sheriff’s Office has also been invited to attend ADRC’s East End Walk in October and will collaborate with ADRC in several speaking engagements that are on ADRC’s calendar for the remainder of 2015.
“ADRC is well-known as the regional leader of care, support services and education programs for families battling Alzheimer’s disease,” says Officer Bryan Stoothoff, Aide to Sheriff Vincent F. DeMarco. “Joan and Mary Ann are extremely receptive to our program, as they recognize the extreme need for incorporating Project Lifesaver throughout agencies in Suffolk County.”
Using the ADRC informative palm card in conjunction with their training, law enforcement personnel can quickly retrieve a wandering individual — something that would otherwise take hours. The cards have also been distributed at senior health/information fairs. “A big misconception law enforcement often makes in dealing with someone with Alzheimer’s disease is that the person is just intoxicated,” continues Officer Stoothoff. “These cards help change that mentality. All too often, we see tragic stories of those with cognitive disorders who wander and aren’t found in time. Our program brings tremendous peace of mind to these families. The Sheriff’s Office is just a phone call away, and we will bring them home.”
Sheriff Vincent DeMarco was appointed by Project Lifesaver International as the Downstate New York State Coordinator. In this role, the Sheriff and his officers will be responsible for training law enforcement agencies south of Albany that wish to launch the Project Lifesaver program in their jurisdiction. The Nassau County Police Department has since been trained on the program and will be launching their program in the near future.
“We are proud to work with the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office in providing the palm cards as part of the Project Lifesaver program,” says Ms. Malack-Ragona. “The cards have proven to be very successful in helping to find those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and have wandered from their homes. Law enforcement can bring the person home sooner, ensuring the person’s safety and easing the family’s fears. It is an invaluable tool.”
For additional information on ADRC, please contact Mary Ann Malack-Ragona, Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer, at (631) 820-8068 or visit www.adrcinc.org.
Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center, Inc. — which is headquartered in Bay Shore and has a satellite office in Southampton — is the only local Alzheimer’s disease advocacy and educational facility whose mission is to fund local research and provide hands-on support and services to families on Long Island and the New York metropolitan area. ADRC works with family members, health care professionals and researchers to ensure quality health care and support to those impacted by Alzheimer’s disease through care and consultation, information and referral, training, support groups, and caregiver safety products.