When a loved one with dementia wanders away from home, families can become flustered as they try to find current pictures so that police can issue a Silver Alerts.
Now some Massachusetts communities are turning to dementia registries, where families can register loved ones with the disease.
“The first thing a person will do is panic,” said Hudson Police Officer Wendy LaFlamme.
The registry will help police officers like LaFlamme have instant information like current photos — if someone wanders off.
“If somebody’s registered it can be a lot quicker for us to respond as police officers,” said LaFlamme.
A registry saves time because all of the information is at the ready if the missing person is registered.
Hudson just started a registry weeks ago. Sixteen families have already signed up.
“You could call it an epidemic,” said Kelli Calo of the Hudson Health Department. “We’re seeing it more and more often, especially with the baby boomers coming up.”
In Marlborough, applications for the city’s registry just went live on Wednesday.
“In three years we’ll have more people over 60 than under 18 in this community so it’s very, very important to us,” said Trish Pope, executive director of the Marlborough Council on Aging.
Louis Bibi, Jr. said his father lived with dementia for years.
“It got to the point where he needed someone with him 24 hours a day,” said Bibi.
He said he knows families will benefit from the registry because every minute counts when a loved one goes missing.
“It’ll make it safer not only for the people with the dementia, but it’ll give the families a piece of mind,” said Bibi.
Some cities and town already have grants to become dementia-friendly communities. In Marlborough, there’s a community wide meeting on the issue set for March 4.