ARLINGTON, Va. – Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, recognized each November, aims to educate the public about Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive impairments, and how they affect both patients, families and caregivers. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive impairments often wander or become lost in the community and, due to confusion, may be unable to ask for help, leaving them vulnerable to weather, traffic and susceptible to become victims of crime. That’s why the Arlington County Police Department is partnering with the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America to raise public awareness and share information on the resources available in our community.
Light the World Teal Day
Each year, the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) encounters memory-impaired individuals, including regular contact with those enrolled in the Project Lifesaver program, and locating critically missing adults and children. Recognizing the importance of education and awareness about this disease for both officers and the community, ACPD is joining the many landmarks, cities and agencies who are members of Project Lifesaver around the globe taking part in Light the World Teal Day by wearing teal ribbons on their uniforms on November 8. Light the World Teal Day, now in its 6th year, is a global campaign to light up cities, buildings and notable landmarks teal, sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. Lighting the world teal shines the spotlight on Alzheimer’s disease, raises awareness and shows support for the millions of people affected by it.
Police Response to Critically Missing Persons in Arlington
Upon receiving the report of a critically missing person whose disappearance indicates a credible threat to the health and safety of that individual, Arlington County Police initiate an investigation, document the circumstances and notify other law enforcement agencies in the area. During the course of the investigation, officers may canvas areas the missing person is known to frequent, use aerial or K9 assistance and/or share information on social media platforms to solicit assistance from the public and news media.
Keeping Memory Impaired Members of Our Community Safe
In the event that your loved one goes missing, caretakers and families are reminded of a few important tips, which can assist in the investigation and locating the missing adult or juvenile.
- Call 911 Right Away
- Remain at the location where the loved one that was last seen
- Be prepared to provide the following information for the missing person
- Date of birth
- Physical and clothing description
- Last known direction of travel
- Recent photograph
- Places they like to frequent and/or are attracted to
- Inform the police of possible triggers—things that could upset the loved one or cause them to react in a negative way (lights, sirens, touching, phrases, etc.)
- Inform the police of things that could help gain compliance and trust
- Solicit assistance from neighbors or friends to help with the search while you wait for the police
Project Lifesaver: A Proactive Step for Caregivers
Nothing could be more frightening than the thought of a loved one with a cognitive impairment becoming lost. SafetyNet is a program of proactive involvement and specialized operations that respond to incidents involving victims with cognitive impairments that wander away from home, become lost and cannot find their way back. When a caregiver notifies police that a client of the program has gone missing, the department utilizes specialized technology to aid in locating the missing loved one.
How Do I Enroll a Loved One in Project Lifesaver?
Enroll your loved one in Project Lifesaver by first registering with SafetyNet Tracking, or call 1-877-4-FIND-THEM (1-877-434-6384). This program requires an initial enrollment fee and a monthly charge. Once you have signed up, an officer will be notified of your enrollment and will contact you with more details regarding the program.
Remain Engaged and Connect with County Services
The Arlington County Area Agency on Aging (AAA), part of the Department of Human Services’ Aging and Disability Services Division, offers support and services to patients, families and caregivers in the Community. The Aging and Disability Resource Center is the County’s gateway to information, guidance and referrals to services for older adults, persons with disabilities and their caregivers via the phone, in-person and home visits. Email the Area Agency on Aging or call 703-228-1700 for more information on programs and services available in Arlington.