Safe Haven helps people living with Alzheimer's - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Safe Haven helps people living with Alzheimer's

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January 4, 2005

Albany--Albany Police and advocates for the elderly work together to protect the most vulnerable members of the community. Just this week, an Alzheimer's patient wandered away from home. When police found him, they had no idea who he was.

It happens more than you might think. For more than two years, a program called Safe Haven has worked to reunite missing Alzheimer's patients with loved ones.

"In this day and time, Alzheimer is increasing daily. We'll have individuals who'll come from great distances," says Elaine Wilson. Through the Southwest Georgia Council of Aging, Elaine Wilson heads a program called Safe Haven.

"Hopefully and prayerfully one case at a time, we can make a difference," she says. The program provides shelter to anyone who simply can't remember their way back home. Just Monday, the agency helped reunite Easter Washington with his family.

"He didn't have any identification on him, so that was the only thing we could do was find a safe haven for him," she says.

Sunday afternoon the Albany Police Department found the 80-year-old walking along 16th Avenue dazed and confused.

"Police could not understand what he was saying because his language was truly unintelligible," she says.

Washington was eventually taken to a "safe haven" here in Albany. "We've also contracted with the Pines Personal Care Home to provide a bed for the individuals," she says.

"If you have someone who's at least 60 years of age, and they're elderly, out there lost, especially on these cold nights, it could actually prove to be fatal," says Ltd. Tracey Barnes with the Albany Police Department.

With the help of Albany police, the Safe Haven program has reunited eight people with their loved ones.

"Our officers annually must attend a four hour training class that they actually put on to help identify the symptoms that we would see out on the streets," says Barnes.

It took hours to locate Washington's family, but Wilson says that's just part of the process.

"It takes listening, questioning. It takes knowing how to understand someone who is almost speaking unintelligible language," she says.

If you have a loved one with Alzheimer's, you should consider getting them an ID bracelet that will make reunification easier if they wander away.

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