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Tracker device finds woman with Alzheimer's

Here's a story from Montgomery County this week that involved a lost 78-year-old Alzheimer's patient -- and it has a happy ending.

The woman was wearing a wrist-watch shaped tracking device provided by Project Lifesaver, a nonprofit based in Chesapeake, Va., that has more than 1,000 public safety agencies working with the devices. Those with autism or Down syndrome also can wear the devices, around their wrists or ankles.

Project Lifesaver sent us an eye-opening fact sheet, which says 13 percent of people older than 65 in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s, and “wandering” constitutes the biggest threat to them.

In the Montgomery County case, a 78-year-old woman and her husband had gone grocery shopping at the Leisure World Plaza, where they experienced car trouble, and had to take a cab home. They got a second car, and returned to jump-start the first car, according to police.

That mission accomplished, the husband then asked his wife to follow him home in the second car. At the intersection of Bel Pre Road and Rippling Drive, the wife became separated, and her husband couldn’t find her. He drove home and called the police.

Two officers with tracking units were called in, and one of them received a “hit.” His colleagues refined their search area, and found the woman unharmed in a parking lot near Route 108 and New Hampshire Avenue -- 39 minutes after the first hit. This is the first time Montgomery police used the device to find a driver. Previous searches have located those on foot.

For more information about the program in Montgomery, click here or call Officer Laurie Reyes at 301-840-2788. Project Lifesaver in Chesapeake can be reached at 877-580-LIFE (5433).

-- Dan Morse

By Dan Morse  |  December 18, 2009; 3:00 PM ET
Categories:  Dan Morse , Montgomery  
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