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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SMITH of Texas. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, H.R. 2800, the Missing Alzheimer's Disease Patient Alert Program Reauthorization Act of 2012, is sponsored by the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Waters). I thank her for her work on this issue.

Alzheimer's disease is a serious condition that is becoming more and more prevalent. The disease affects as many as 5 million people in this country, or one in eight older Americans, and a new person develops Alzheimer's every 69 seconds. This pace is expected to increase with time.

It is estimated that more than half of the people with Alzheimer's or other types of dementia will become lost from their families or caretakers at some point. Many of these people cannot remember their name, their family members or their address. This makes returning home safely difficult for law enforcement officers and Good Samaritans.

As is true whenever a person goes missing, time is of the essence when attempting to locate a lost Alzheimer's patient. One study found an almost 50 percent mortality rate for Alzheimer's patients who are not found within 24 hours of becoming lost.

To address the problem of missing Alzheimer's patients, Congress created the Missing Alzheimer's Disease Patient Alert Program in 1996. This Justice Department program provides grants to locally based organizations to protect and locate missing patients with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia. Congress has appropriated money for this every year since its creation.

The Justice Department has provided grants to several programs, including the Alzheimer's Association's Safe Return program. In this program, people with Alzheimer's and dementia are registered in a data base and receive a bracelet that indicates the individual is memory impaired. The bracelet also includes a 24-hour emergency response number to call if the person is found wandering or has a medical emergency.

The Alzheimer's Association reports a 99 percent success rate for reuniting enrolled missing individuals with their caretakers through the Safe Return program.

H.R. 2800, the Missing Alzheimer's Disease Patient Alert Program Reauthorization Act of 2012, reauthorizes this program at $1 million a year for 5 years. This authorization level reflects the fiscal year 2012 appropriations level. H.R. 2800 helps to ensure that people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia are returned safely home when they become lost.

Again, I want to thank the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Waters) for her leadership on this issue, and I encourage my colleagues to join me in support of this bill.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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