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El Paso man with Alzheimer's goes missing twice in just one month

El Paso man with Alzheimer's goes missing twice in just one month
Friday, December 27, 2013 - 11:47pm

A missing El Paso man with Alzheimer wondered off for the second time in just a month on Thursday -- prompting a city wide silver alert.

Sixty one year-old Manuel Chavez was found safe and sound Friday, but his case is similar to many that law enforcement encounter nearly every month.

Providers for elderly and special needs patients already have measures in place to try and prevent Alzheimer’s or Dementia patients from wandering off.

But one Texas police department is taking an extra step, and is using technology to help.

Chavez suffers from Alzheimer’s. And he isn't alone. Nearly every month police find themselves looking for an Alzheimer’s or dementia patient gone missing.

"If you already know that one of your ward has a high risk for elopement or wondering, you want to make sure they are in a secure facility," said Andrea Ramirez, who works at Project Amistad.

Project Amistad an organization that provides help for elderly and special needs patients, like placing them in foster homes and care centers.

"We always want to respect that they are in the least restrictive placement because they do have rights," she said.

Because Alzheimer patients can't be placed in a fully secured home, sometimes more needs to be done to ensure the safety of loved ones..

"If you have an elopement risk, maybe you can where a bracelet to alert staff of where you are," Ramirez said.

Which is exactly what Woodway Police Department in Texas is offering people with dementia or Alzheimers, or any mental disorder.

"instead of a four or nine hour search involving multiple people and agencies maybe air assets hopefully we can reduce that time using this tool to track them down hopefully in a matter of minutes or even a couple of hours," said Chief Yost Zakhary.

It's a GPS device patients where around their wrists. In test trials, it took police 35 minutes to find someone, at the longest.

Here in El Paso Adult Protective Services already offers a similar bracelet, just one step in protecting your loved ones from wondering off.

"Being preventative. Being proactive vs. being reactive," said Ramirez.

Adult Protective Services was not available for an interview.

Ramirez says that almost all of the providers Project Amistad looks at are doing a great job in preventing patients from wondering off on their own.

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