Los Angeles, CA – On April 6, Supervisor Janice Hahn addressed the inaugural meeting of the Bringing Our Loved Ones Home Task Force. The objective of the task force is to research the most effective ways to find individuals with autism, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other memory-related diseases in the event that they wander away from their caretakers. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 60% of people with dementia will wander at some point. Wandering is a common and often dangerous symptom associated with these conditions.
After joining the search for Nancy Paulikas, a Manhattan Beach woman who suffers from early-onset Alzheimer’s, Supervisor Hahn co-authored a motion with Supervisor Barger that created the Bringing Our Loved Ones Home Task Force. Nancy has been missing since she wandered away during a family outing to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in October of 2016.
“The goal of this task force is to identify solutions that will help recover lost individuals faster and give their family members and caretakers some peace of mind,” said Supervisor Hahn. “We have brought together an incredible coalition of stakeholders from across the county to develop solutions to a difficult but not insurmountable problem.”
Supervisor Hahn emphasized the importance of utilizing emerging technologies to solve this complex problem. She cited Glendale Police’s use of “Project Lifesaver” wristbands as a model worth seriously considering. Each wristband contains a transmitter that can send signals to a handheld receiver. The wristband is not under constant monitoring by the police department but once a caregiver notifies police that their loved one is missing, receivers are activated connected to that wristband’s frequency code. Officers can then locate the missing person using multiple receivers to triangulate their wristband’s signal. There are currently 19 individuals enrolled in the Glendale Police Department program. Of the 19 individuals enrolled, 7 have wandered away from a loved one and have gone missing. The police were able to bring all 7 individuals home safely.
Cynthia Banks, the Director of Workforce Development, Aging, and Community Services, is the head of the task force. During the meeting, members of the task force outlined the services that are already available to those who suffer from memory-related diseased, emphasized the importance of protecting the autonomy and independence of individuals with these conditions, and discussed the importance of supporting caretakers.
The task force is composed of a diverse group of stakeholders and policy experts including members of the Sheriff’s department, the Department of Public Social Services, The Department of Public Health, The Department of Mental Health, the Office of Public Guardian, the Commission on Disabilities, the Los Angeles County Commission on Local Governmental Services, the Commission on Aging, the Office of Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, the Countywide Criminal Justice Coordination Committee, and the nonprofit Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles.