HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer's disease.
One of the major concerns surrounding those living with Alzheimer's is that they could wander off.
Now, Home Instead Senior Care in Murrells Inlet has launched a new program working to combat those potential dangers.
It's called the Missing Senior Network Alert System, which lets users create an account and add a network of friends, family and neighbors. In the event a loved one with Alzheimer's does go missing, that network is on standby to help.
The new alert system is part of Home Instead's community education program to help prevent wandering. Once a person is signed up, it does not stop there. Experts will hold workshops and show videos to help family members spot different triggers that could cause a loved one to wander.
"It's very difficult when you have a spouse that have Alzheimer's," said Ray Carter, whose husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's five years ago and has been with Home Instead Senior Care since 2016. "He developed the sundown syndrome, where the patients with Alzheimer's just want to walk, and he does a lot of that. We've had some in our neighborhood that did, and as soon as we were notified, the whole neighborhood turned out looking for that patient."
Nearly 50 percent of families caring for an Alzheimer's patient have experienced an instance of wandering. About half of those who are not found within 24 hours suffer serious injuries or even death.
Figures like that are spurring caregivers like Home Instead to come up with ways to keep families ahead of the game.
"One of the things we want to do is provide the families with the tools that they need to care for and keep their loved ones safe," said Melissa Tresslar, a senior care education coordinator with Home Instead. "Being proactive and setting up that system ahead of time gives you ... instead of thinking, 'What do I do? 'Who do I call next?' you know, I'm going to push that button and alert everyone that I'm looking for mom or dad."
Wandering can also happen, even with 24-7 care.
To learn how to prevent or how to respond to wandering before it happens, go to MissingSeniorNetwork.com.
This alert system is part of Prevent Wandering, a free community education program with tips and resources for families to gain insight into what triggers these events and steps they can take to keep loved ones safe.
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