Illinois launches new program to help families of Alzheimer's pa - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Illinois launches new program to help families of Alzheimer's patients

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The Silver Search Program logo The Silver Search Program logo
Rosie and Ron Whittaker at the Quincy Senior and Family Resource Center Rosie and Ron Whittaker at the Quincy Senior and Family Resource Center
The Quincy Senior and Family Resource Center The Quincy Senior and Family Resource Center
Rosie and Ron talking together Rosie and Ron talking together
Rosie and Ron leaving the Quincy Senior and Family Resource Center Rosie and Ron leaving the Quincy Senior and Family Resource Center
QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -

6 out of every 10 people with Alzheimer's disease will wander at some point during the diagnosis, according to Illinois State Police. A new program announced in Illinois Wednesday aims to get loved ones back to their families safely.

Officers at the Quincy Police Department said they have several incidents every year where Alzheimer's patients go missing, but now the new Silver Search Program will help better train officers to find loved ones.

Around 8 years ago, Rosie Whittaker noticed that her husband Ron wasn't remembering things as well as he used to.

"I'd tell him to do something and he'd come back a few minutes later, 'no I forgot," Whittaker said.

Ron has Alzheimer's and now Rosie is his care taker. She said over the last year it's gotten worse and she worries he could wander off.

"We have quite a few fields around us, and when the crops are high, and he gets lost in a corn field, Heaven knows how long it would take to find him," Whittaker added.

The new Silver Search Program gives emergency responders a tool kit to better train how to handle a lost patient with Alzheimer's or dementia. 

"We have to train our first responders," missing persons coordinator with the Illinois State Police Craig Burge said. "We have to train our telecommunications, our dispatchers, our law enforcement officers out there on how to handle these situations."

There is a local program called Project Life Saver in conjunction with the Quincy Police Department and the Quincy Family and Resource Center.

"If the family is concerned about them wandering and getting lost, they can be outfitted with a bracelet, which can then be tracked in Adams County," Gail Murry with the Quincy Senior and Family Resource Center said.

Whittaker said it's a 24-hour job to take care of Ron, and the Silver Search Program gives her more peace of mind that if Ron does wander off, he'll make it home safely.

"You have to have help," Whittaker said. "Even when you think you're in bed resting, you're not. It's like you're sleeping with one eye open because you never know if they're going to get up and wonder on you."

The Silver Search Program will train more than 2,500 emergency personnel in the next two years. If you want to know more about the local program, you can call the Quincy Police Department at 217-228-4480  or the Quincy Senior and Family Resource Center at 217-223-7824.

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