An estimated 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, including one in eight Americans over 65 and nearly half of Americans over 85. Sixty percent of Alzheimer's patients are likely to wander from their homes. Wanderers are vulnerable to dehydration, weather conditions, traffic hazards, and individuals who prey on those who are defenseless. Up to 50 percent of wandering Alzheimer's patients will become seriously injured or die if they are not found within 24 hours of their departure from home.
To assist vulnerable Alzheimer’s patients and their families, I introduced H.R. 908, which reauthorizes, updates and expands the Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert Program, a Department of Justice program which helps local communities and law enforcement quickly identify persons with Alzheimer’s disease who wander away or are missing and reunite them with their families.
Since it was established more than 10 years ago, the Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert Program has funded a national registry of more than 172,000 individuals at risk of wandering and has reunited over 12,000 wanderers with their families. The program has a 98% success rate in recovering enrollees who are reported missing, and 88% of registrants who wander are found within the first four hours of being reported missing.
The House of Representatives passed H.R. 908 in February of 2009.
Also, I introduced the Alzheimer’s Treatment and Caregiver Support Act (H.R. 4123), to improve treatment services for Alzheimer’s patients and expand training and support services for their families and caregivers, and H. Res. 910, National Memory Screening Day, to promote awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, to support the development of a national health policy on dementia screening and care, and to encourage Americans concerned about memory loss to be screened.