Paris police initiate wandering persons aid

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By A.M. Sheehan

PARIS — The Paris Police Department has announced a new program to help locate missing people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or autism.

Individuals and their loved ones can come to the Paris Police Department to voluntarily provide information regarding those in the family who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia and those with autism spectrum disorder.

The program is strictly voluntary. Based on the national Safe Return program, it is designed to assist the Paris Police Department in the swift and safe recovery of missing loved ones. In the unlikely event that a loved one wanders away, the Paris Police Department will already have all the necessary information needed to conduct a thorough and extensive search.

This relieves the family of having to attempt to locate the pertinent information during a time of stress and allows the family to focus on locating the loved one. All the data collected will be held in the strictest of confidence and used only by police.

“We hope it never has to be utilized, but it should provide a peace of mind for the family and the police knowing the information is readily available,” said Interim Police Chief Jeffrey Lange.

The forms will be available at the Paris Police Department and on the Paris Police website under “On Line Forms” at www.parismaine.org/documents/forms/on-line-forms/ and can be emailed or dropped off to the police administrative assistant.

If you encounter someone showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease, the person may seem uncooperative with no memory of what happened, despite easily verifiable events. Because Alzheimer’s disease affects the part of the brain where memory is stored, the individual may be unable to answer your questions or understand the seriousness of the incident.

When you encounter a person with dementia:

• Identify yourself and explain why you’ve approached the person.

• Maintain good eye contact.

• Speak slowly in a nonthreatening, low-pitched voice.

• Loudness can convey anger; do not assume the person is hearing impaired.

• Use short, simple words.

• Ask “yes” and “no” questions.

• Ask one question at a time, allowing plenty of time for response.

• If necessary, repeat your question using the exact wording. People with dementia may only grasp a part of the question at a time.

• Instead of speaking, try nonverbal communication. Prompting with action works well.

• Maintain a calm environment, devoid of chaos and excessive stimuli.

• Avoid restraints; confinement may trigger agitation, which may compound confusion and disorientation.

• Avoid confrontation.

• Avoid correcting or “reality checks.”

• If possible, use another individual to communicate if dialog seems stalled, but be sure that only one person speaks at a time.

asheehan@sunmediagroup.net