Thomasville-- Herb Baker says his mom Grace is in great shape for her age. "She gets around very good for 93-years-old," he says.
In fact, she can be hard to keep up with. "She thinks nothing of walking out a door and saying that she's going to the Piggly Wiggly or Jim's Drugstore, both of which are over in Alabama," Baker says.
Signs of his mom's Alzheimers came suddenly about three years ago. He says the hardest part of the illness is that "she's very apt to wander at a moment's notice."
Carol Whitney, dirtector at Southern Pines Retirement Community says this is a fairly common problem. "Unfortunately wandering is one of the biggest challenges that faces care givers with caring for someone with alzheimer's or other types of demensia," Whitney says.
That's where the idea for the Safe Return program came from. "Through an identification bracelet or other type of items, individuals who are prone to possibly wandering and putting themselves in an unsafe situation can be easily identified," says Whitney.
If a person enrolled in the system goes missing, their information is immediately sent to law enforcement throughout the area. Whitney explains "they have an immediate update on the situation, they have photographs and identifying marks and traits so they can immediately begin looking for this person as a missing person but also knowing the special needs of the individual. Hopefully the individual can be located in a very quick and effective manner."
Because it's only when you know your loved ones are returned safely, that you can rest easy.
Registration for the Safe Return program will be held this Saturday from 2 to 4 at the Rose Garden at Cherokee Lake in Thomasville. It's $40 to sign up but there are scholarships available.