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"Lifesaver" Devices Track Down Lost Seniors

Oneida County's population is aging more quickly than the national average. That means more cases of dementia and Alzheimer's here. A device called the Lifesaver bracelet is being issued through the Oneida County Sheriff's Office to track down the elderly who may wander away and go missing.
Oneida County's population is aging more quickly than the national average. That means more cases of dementia and Alzheimer's here. A device called the Lifesaver bracelet is being issued through the Oneida County Sheriff's Office to track down the elderly who may wander away and go missing. The only problem--there's a limited amount of bracelets available due to a lack funds. Each bracelet has the potential to save a life but they come at a cost of about three-hundred dollars each. The Sheriff's Office had given out 30 before they ran out. Now a few more can be purchased thanks to a donation by an adult care group.
Everyone knows that horrible feeling of being lost, but some have to deal with it on a daily basis. Those with Alzheimer's disease or in the early stages of dementia, can become lost and even die just miles from home.
"They're wandering, they're lost, they don't know, I mean it's got to be scary, I can't even imagine," said Cynthia Vandawalker, an activities aide at Presbyterian Homes and Services The Lifesaver is a radio transmitter the size of a watch, that allows the Sheriff's Office to track a wandering person using an antenna. And in Oneida County, it has a one-hundred-percent success rate.
"We've been called to a place where a different agency has been looking for someone for probably an hour or so and when we got there we turned on the electronic device and within eight minutes after we got there we found him," said Deputy Fred Lomanto.
To create more success stories like this, the Presbyterian Homes and Services adult care program raised over six-hundred dollars by selling crafts.
June Burelson is one of the many in this program who've seen a loved one go missing--her late uncle was once lost for twelve hours.
"He was there parked at Wal-Mart in his truck from 7, 8 o'clock in the morning until 7, 8 o'clock at night," she said.
She says the lifesaver bracelet could've prevented this and allowed him more freedom in his later years.
"It's hard to tell someone when you're sick, 'you can't get out' and you want to go!"
Carol Aldrich also knows of someone who could've been saved by the device.
"The man was lost within a half mile of his home and they never found him until it was too late," she said.
The deputy says time is of the essence when an elderly person goes missing. This is especially true now when temperatures begin to drop. About seven-hundred people die from cold weather alone each year in the U.S.
"With winter approaching, time is what we really need, the sooner we get there to find them, then the better off everybody is," said Lomanto.
The newly funded bracelets will be given to those currently on the waiting list, but this doesn't solve the problem. Without state or federal funding for the devices, the Sheriff's Office relies purely on donations for their distribution.
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