Letter: Alzheimer's Association Offers Help To Protect Wandering Seniors

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Eastchester resident Catherine "Kay" Cotter drowned in the Bronx River after going missing.
Eastchester resident Catherine "Kay" Cotter drowned in the Bronx River after going missing. Photo Credit: Contributed

EASTCHESTER, N.Y. - In response to the disappearance and death of Eastchester senior citizen Catherine “Kay” Cotter, the Alzheimer's Association reminds residents that there are services to protect those suffering from dementia.

The county offers a service called the Project Lifesaver program, which fits seniors with special battery-powered bracelets that can be worn on the wrist. If the senior wanders away from their home, both county and local law enforcement officials are able to track the radio signal to a precise location. Legislators called for further promotion of the program Monday.

The Alzheimer's Association offers similar services to prevent incidents when Seniors wander, said Michele Muir, its director of communications and public policy.

Recently, a woman went missing from her home in Eastchester, and sadly, her body was found four days later in a local river bed. An extensive search had been conducted by police, family, and community members to find the woman who had wandered not far from home and into an unsafe area. Our hearts go out to all involved.

Regrettably, wandering is a common behavior in persons who have developed Alzheimer’s disease. Sixty percent of those afflicted will wander from their homes and safe environments. There is a motivation behind their journeys – the person, whose memory has been severely compromised may be intending to return to a job left long ago, or may be en route to mail a letter at the post office.

The Alzheimer’s Association offers safety alerts and educational programs to assist in the protection of those with Alzheimer’s and provide some help to caregivers. MedicAlert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return and Comfort Zone are services that address the wandering risk in different ways, as does the Westchester Department of Senior Programs & Services, with Project Lifesaver. 

If you suspect someone you love may be at risk of wandering, call us. If you would like information about programs for individuals or families living with Alzheimer’s, or if you need someone to talk to about the stress and changes brought on by dementia, call us. 

The Alzheimer’s Association information, referral and education line is available 24 hours, seven days a week at 800-272-3900. 

You can also visit us online.
Michele Muir
Director of Communications and Public Policy
Alzheimer’s Association – Hudson Valley/Rockland/Westchester

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Comments (1)

Very nice program but the people who need this are usually the last to hear about it. People who care for family members with Alzheimer's are so burdened and do not usually get any help unless they ask the right people who know the right places to get services. The people who know these care givers should tell the care givers about this program encourage the care givers to call the numbers given in this article. The Care givers do not always realize what is the best way to care for the Alzheimer's patient. When I had to take care of my father a number of years ago for a day and night, I found out that he could not use the phone to call for help and he was using matches to burn leaves. I had a hard time getting him to give me the matches and for a 90+ man with Dementia, he was very strong. My mother who had to go away for the weekend, never told me these things.