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New app could help find missing seniors with Alzheimer's or dementia

Missing Senior Network app
Posted at 6:46 PM, Sep 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-02 13:55:05-04

"My dad would wander every once in a while," said Janette Brown, employee at Home Instead Senior Care, Boise.

Janette brown lost her father to Alzheimer’s just a month ago and knows the fear others feel when their loved ones are missing.

There is no statewide alert system in Idaho for people older than 60 who go missing.

"It's a rather rural area so he would wonder about a mile down the road to the neighbors anytime that they thought they needed him to be there," said Brown.

So, it's up to local police departments to bring them home safely. 

"So he would be brought back by the police department every once in a while," said Brown.

When a vulnerable elderly person disappears, every minute is crucial.

Sometimes the technology officers use to locate a missing person takes quite some time to gather information, but a new app could change all of that and help families when loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s go missing.

Janette went to work for a nationwide company Home Instead Senior Care because of her personal experience with Alzheimer’s. That company launched the free tool, the Missing Senior Network.

"You just alert through the app and everybody, you don't have to call them up individually, it just goes out to all of them and they're able to know that they need to keep an eye out, so you just have tons of eyes out there looking for your senior," said Mike Powell, Boise Home Instead owner.

The deputy chief of meridian police believes the new app will help.

"Ya, I think it would. You know, if people can get that information out. The sooner we can get the information out, the easier it is, the easier it is for us to obviously spot this person in a timely manner," Deputy Chief, Tracy Basterrechea, Caldwell Police Department.

In the event of a wandering loved one, the caregiver or family can quickly alert the missing person's personal network all at once. 

Janette knows all too well how valuable the new app will be.

"I do see some, you know, real advantages to have that where so many people have cell phones, um they can check on their loved ones,"  said Brown.

The app is available in the treasure valley. Families can create a free account which allows them to set up a personal network of friends and neighbors.

Families can create a free account which allows them to set up a personal network of friends and neighbors. In the event of a wandering loved one, the family can quickly alert their personal network all at once.