Seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias sometimes may wander away, leaving them vulnerable to unsafe situations where family members are not nearby to help them. To help return these seniors home safely, the Florida Department of Elder Affairs has partnered with a company called Scent Evidence K9 to distribute 2,000 Scent Preservation Kits, the department recently announced in a press release.
“These Scent Preservation Kits® will assist families and help prevent at-risk individuals from becoming a missing person. They allow families and caregivers to be prepared before an at-risk individual goes missing, and the kits improve the response time if someone does go wandering,” says Elder Affairs Secretary Richard Prudom.
In a 2018 Australian study of elderly people with dementia who wandered, researchers found that frequent and repeated walking without resting was common, as was walking without knowing how to get back home. The risks of these behaviors includes injury, falls, exhaustion, hypothermia, and dying. Of course, there is the stress that comes when family members don’t know where their loved one is.
The founders of the company Scent Evidence K9 developed their Scent Preservation Kit to give K9 trailing responders with scent articles from missing persons and on-scene target collection methods that increase location success while also lowering the time it takes to find a target, according to the company website. In addition to those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, the scent kits are also used with children, such as those with autism spectrum disorder.
The K9 training facilities for Scent Evidence K9 are in Tallahassee, and Bolivar, Tennessee, where world-class scent American Kennel Club bloodhounds and scene detection K9s are used. They are trained to help with a variety of scene desks, such as the detection of electronic communication devices, bombs and explosives, invasive species, and agricultural threats.
The effort to distribute Scent Preservation Kits is part of Florida’s Safer at Home initiative associated with COVID-19. The Department of Elder Affairs is collaborating with memory disorder clinics, the Alzheimer’s disease initiative, and Florida Area Agencies on Aging to identify recipients for the kits and help make sure that those at the highest risk for wandering are protected.
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