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Public Statements

Missing Alzheimer's Disease Patient Alert Program Reauthorization Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank Chairman Lamar Smith and Ranking Member John Conyers for advancing this bill through the Judiciary Committee. And, I especially want to thank Congresswoman Maxine Waters for her commitment and hard work over the years in support of the Missing Alzheimer's Disease Patient Alert Program.

Alzheimer's disease robs millions of individuals in the U.S. of their ability to recognize once familiar places and faces or even to remember their names and addresses.

Not everyone with Alzheimer's wanders, but an estimated 60% wander at some point in the disease, and many of those wander repeatedly. They easily become disoriented and lost, even in their own neighborhood. While wandering is common, it also can be extremely dangerous, particularly for the unprotected and the mentally and physically vulnerable. If not found within 24 hours, up to half of those who wander risk serious injury or death. And their friends and familieis are beside themselves with worry.

Since its inception in FY1996 and the awarding of a grant to the Alzheimer's Association, the Missing Alzheimer's Disease Patient Alert Program has been a literal life-line, helping in the safe return of many thousands of wanderers.

The program has been funded every year since 1996 and funding has been used to establish a nationwide emergency response service for individuals with Alzheimer's or another dementia who wander or have a medical emergency, including an identification and enrollment system.

H.R. 2800 reauthorizes for five years this Department of Justice Program that provides grants to nonprofit organizations to operate programs designed to help local communities and law enforcement officials quickly identify wandering dementia patients and reunite them with their families.

The program has a 98% success rate for safely returning program enrollees who were reported missing. The program also assists individuals with dementia who are not enrolled, with an 88% success rate. I encourage all of my colleagues to vote for this important legislation.

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