According to the Alzheimer’s Association, about six out of 10 people living with dementia will wander away from their homes. As the development of the disease continues, it can become increasingly difficult and potentially impossible for the person to find their way home. Many children with autism may also wander. That’s why the Wake Forest Police Department (WFPD) is offering a program that helps officers find and safely return home people with disabilities as quickly as possible when they wander away from their families or caregivers.
The WFPD’s Take Me Home initiative is designed to protect Wake Forest children, adults and the elderly with disabilities, such as autism, Down’s syndrome or Alzheimer’s and other dementia disorders, who go missing and may be unable to communicate who they are and where they live. The program is a free, voluntary and confidential database offered, managed and maintained by Wake Forest Police for Wake Forest residents. It is only accessible to law enforcement via the WFPD.
When someone enrolls in the program, police obtain their basic information, a current digital photograph, family emergency contact information and other details that might help police if they encounter them. Then, in the event a caregiver alerts police that their loved one has wandered away, officers will have the immediate ability to distribute a photo and other pertinent information to law enforcement and other first responders which will save precious minutes in launching the search.
The system can also work in reverse. In the event police find someone wandering the town who’s confused, disoriented and unable to say who they are or where they live, officers can check the database to determine if they are enrolled in the program.
Enrollment is easy. Caregivers can register family members with disabilities by completing the online form at www.wakeforestnc.gov/police/community-outreach/take-me-home or by calling 919-554-6150.