County residents caring for a senior with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia should be aware of Project Lifesaver, which just might save the lives of their elderly loved ones should they wander from their homes.
Project Lifesaver is a free program that uses radio-frequency technology to find seniors who stray and return them safely to their families.
Through Project Lifesaver, seniors are fitted with bracelets with special batteries. Then, should they wander away, specifically trained and equipped police from the Westchester County’s Department of Public Safety can find them using radio signals that the bracelets transmit.
Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino said he encourages all caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s to learn about this program.
“Project Lifesaver helps us to find the missing senior more quickly, Astorino said. “I hope that it will also give at least some peace of mind to their frantic family who often feel they may never see their loved one again.”
Since the program began in 2008, county police have rescued eight seniors. In addition, the police were activated to search for 14 more missing seniors, but the person had been found before they arrived.
Sadly, an 88-year-old woman from Eastchester who suffered from dementia and wandered from her home in late May could not be quickly located because she was not enrolled in Project Lifesaver. Her body was found in the Bronx River three days after she strayed from her home.
In addition to the public safety department, Project Lifesaver is sponsored by the county’s Department of Senior Programs and Services (DSPS) and its Livable Communities initiative, the Westchester Public/Private Partnership for Aging Services and International Project Lifesaver.
DSPS Commissioner Mae Carpenter said that Project Lifesaver is one of many programs the department sponsors to support caregivers.
“Caring for an elderly person is an act of love by a family member, but it is often an exhausting and lonely job,” Carpenter said. “That is why neighbors and others in the community must volunteer to lend a hand. This situation will continue to grow as the population continues to age so we need everyone to lend a hand.”
The Alzheimer’s Association, Hudson Valley Chapter, administers the program. For more information and to register, call Alzheimer’s Association at (914) 253-6860 or send an e-mail to .