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Congresswoman Waters Leads 32 Members of Congress Seeking Increased Funding for Missing Alzheimer's Patients

July 21, 2009
Press Release

Today, on Capitol Hill, Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-35) sent a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science requesting an appropriation of $2 million to help local communities and law enforcement officials identify wandering Alzheimer's patients and reunite them with their families.  The text of the letter follows:

We urge you to provide $2 million in the fiscal year 2009 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations bill for the "Missing Alzheimer's Disease Patient Alert Program," a competitive grant program authorized under section 240001 of P.L. 103-322.  This Department of Justice program helps local communities and law enforcement officials quickly identify persons with Alzheimer's disease who wander or are missing and reunite them with their families.

An estimated 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease.  One in eight Americans over 65 and nearly half of Americans over 85 suffer from this disorder.  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.

Since its inception 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 united over 12,000 wanderers with their families.  It is a highly successful program whereby 88% of registrants who wander are found within the first four hours of being reported missing.  A total of 1,288 wandering incidents were reported to the program in 2007.  The program has a 98% success rate in recovering enrollees who are reported missing. 

There are also technology-based options to address wandering that should be considered for funding under the Missing Alzheimer's Disease Patient Alert Program.  For example, personalized wristbands that emit a tracking signal can be used to locate wanderers.  We have been informed that these wristbands, when combined with specially trained search and rescue teams, can reduce search times from hours and days to minutes.

The Missing Alzheimer's Disease Patient Alert Program is a critical resource for first responders.  It saves law enforcement officials valuable time, allowing them to focus on other national and local security concerns. 

Therefore, we urge you to ensure that the fiscal year 2009 CJS appropriations bill includes $2 million for the Missing Alzheimer's Disease Patient Alert Program with the intent of expanding the program and promoting the use of technology-based options.  This valuable program protects the safety of thousands of Americans affected by Alzheimer's disease and provides priceless peace-of-mind to their families.  Families across the country are counting on your support for this important program.


Maxine Waters                 Jim Ramstad
Edward Markey                Christopher Smith
Henry Waxman                John Boozman 
Dale E. Kildee                  William Jefferson
Eleanor Holmes Norton   Michael R. McNulty
Jim Saxton                       Edolphus Towns
Robert Wexler                  Lynn Woolsey 
Phil English                     Corrine Brown
Frank LoBiondo               Bob Filner
Maurice Hinchey             Tammy Baldwin
Steve Cohen                    Janice Schakowsky
Linda T. Sánchez             John M. Spratt, Jr.
Mary Fallin                      Raúl Grijalva
Neil Abercrombie            Donna M. Christensen
Michael E. Capuano         Chris Van Hollen
Shelley Berkley                Diane E. Watson