What to do when a person suffering from Alzheimer's disease, dementia or memory loss becomes lost is a fear for many families. However, a new identification program sponsored by the Clay County Health Center (CCHC) could help alleivate those fears.
"The Home Again program will help families have some peace of mind in the event a loved one wanders or gets lost," CCHC Director of Marketing Kimmi Lee recently told The Brazil Times. "Caregivers or family members of someone experiencing Alzheimer's disease, dementia or any type of disorder that could cause issues with wandering or memory loss that could cause them to not be able to find their way home will benefit from this program."
On Nov. 19, CCHC will have two enrollment sessions for the program at its facility located at 1408 E. Hendrix St., Brazil. The first session will take place from 10 a.m.-noon, while the second takes place 1:30-3:30 p.m.
The free service allows patients to be photographed and confidential personal identification information collected all at one time.
"We are working on a list of resources for families and, although it's an easy form, staff members will be on hand to help fill out the information," Lee said. "Most families don't think about it, but so often as people grow older or their health deteriorates, their physical appearance changes. Having a current photo is really important. It's the best ID for law enforcement if someone wanders or gets lost and they need to contact the media."
Officers from the Clay County Sheriff's, Brazil City Police and Clay City Police departments will also be on hand to fingerprint patients.
Afterward, a complete personal identification file will be provided to the family before leaving, one will be made available for local law enforcement agencies in Clay County and a separate digital back-up file will be stored at CCHC for emergency purposes.
"It has really been a community effort organizing this program," Lee said. "There have been so many ideas and suggestions from local doctors, St. Vincent Clay Hospital, law enforcement agencies, home health care and nursing home facilities, Area 7 and several other senior services agencies, the Chamber of Commerce and so many more people. It's apparent there is a need in our community for this program. I have been so amazed at how everyone has said 'yes' to helping spread the word and inform the public about this."
For more information, contact Kimmi Lee or CCHC Administrator Linda Spencer at 443-4111.
What is Alzheimer's disease?
According to the National Institute on Aging, scientists estimate that more than 4.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease (AD), and the numbers are rising.
While AD is the most common form of dementia among people age 60 and older, although less common, younger people can be diagnosed with the disorder that seriously affects a person's ability to carry out daily activities.
Beginning slowly, AD affects parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language. People with AD may have trouble remembering things that happened recently or names of people they know. Over time, the symptoms get worse as people may not be able to recognize family members, perform basic skills or have trouble speaking, reading or writing. As the disease progresses, they may become anxious or aggressive, or wander away from home.
Eventually, patients diagnosed with AD require constant care.
Scientists, who have yet to fully understand what causes AD, believe there is not one single cause, but several factors that affect each person differently. Age is the most important known risk factor for AD.
There is no treatment available at this time that can stop the disease. However, some individualized drug treatments have been made available in recent years that may help keep symptoms from getting worse for a limited period of time.
For more information, talk with your family physician or log onto the National Institute on Aging website at www.nia.nih.gov.