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Becoming lost with no idea how to get home is one of the scariest and also most common behaviours associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The number of people with dementia is increasing and 60 per cent will wander from home. If they aren’t found in 24 hours, up to 50 per cent will come to harm.*
For this reason and many others, registered charities Canadian MedicAlert® Foundation and the Alzheimer Society of Canada joined forces in 2012, launching the MedicAlert® Safely Home® to help bring people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias safely home.
Today 747,000 Canadians live with dementia. While not a normal part of aging, age remains the biggest risk factor – doubling every five years after age 65 – though dementia can also occur in those as young as 40. Most people with dementias will wander at some point during the progression of the disease.
“This program is an essential resource for keeping people with dementias safe. Registering with the program is an important step family members can take in supporting people with dementias who are at risk of wandering and becoming lost,” says Mimi Lowi-Young, CEO Alzheimer Society of Canada. “By collaborating with Canadian MedicAlert Foundation, we’re answering a need which will become even more critical as our population ages and more Canadians develop this disease.”
The MedicAlert® Safely Home® program utilizes the MedicAlert Look-Read-Call procedure – a simple process health professionals and first responders can follow when faced with a person suffering a crisis or emergency.
[Look] to see if the person is wearing a MedicAlert ID
[Read] the engraving on the back to learn vital information about the person
[Call] the 24/7 Emergency Hotline number on the back of the MedicAlert ID to connect with a live agent in less than five seconds to access the person’s emergency contacts and medical information
When a person with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is found wearing the MedicAlert ID – even if they are unable to answer basic personal questions like where they live – MedicAlert service will provide critical information and immediately notify emergency contacts.
standard medic alert tag
Photo caption A MedicAlert “Blue” steel ID is offered to those joining the MedicAlert® Safely Home® program.
“In addition to helping ensure that people with dementias can find their way safely home, the sophisticated MedicAlert database stores full medical information, including what medications they are taking, information about allergies or conditions and a record of their medical history,” says Robert Ridge, President and CEO, Canadian MedicAlert Foundation.
He adds that, all other reasons aside, registering for the MedicAlert Safely Home program provides families and caregivers with invaluable peace of mind, knowing that those in their care are as safe as possible.
“A month after I put the bracelet on my mother’s wrist, a police officer called,” says caregiver Blair Graham. “He’d found my mother disoriented and lost. He went out of his way to thank me for getting the bracelet and brought her home.”
As law enforcement plays a crucial role in safely returning people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia who have wandered, MedicAlert is excited to announce the first annual
Together we are proud to announce Cst. Pete Grande of the Toronto Police Service, 43 Division, as the first recipient.
We recognize Cst. Grande for the passion and commitment that he has demonstrated in returning those with dementia safely home.
“At any given day, this could be your family member,” he states. “The fear that would take over would be insurmountable, not knowing where your family member is and the mental state that they’re in. As police officers and emergency personnel (Police, Fire, EMS) – we are the perfect conduit between the missing person and MedicAlert.”
Grande says the MedicAlert® Safely Home® program “could, more often than not, bring a very happy ending to what could be a tragic event.”
For more information on the MedicAlert® Safely Home® program visit medicalert.ca/safelyhome or call 1.855.348.3353.
*Alzheimer’s Association (US)