AIKEN, SC– As searchers and investigators in Aiken County work to find a woman with Alzheimer’s who left home Monday night, News Channel 6 hopes to help families who are also caring for people with the disease.
A woman in Aiken County tells us her husband also lived with Alzheimer’s before he died, but she had a special device placed around his wrist just in case he fled their home.
June Cannon cared for her husband, John Cannon, for several years before Alzheimer’s claimed his life at the age of 80. She said there was a team caring for him, but she felt safer knowing her husband was wearing a special bracelet.
“Start the Project Lifesaver as soon as possible,” she stressed.
Cannon told us she knew within two years of her husband’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, in his early 70s, that she wanted to keep him from fleeing their home.
“Safety has to come first,” the Aiken resident said.
Project Lifesaver, a personal transmitter that emits an individualized tracking signal, helps people with Alzheimer’s, autism or other cognitive conditions who might become lost. Cannon, who lost her husband in September 2012, said they both decided during his first stage of Alzheimer’s to not only allow medicine to help him, but also the special bracelet.
“John could understand up to a certain point about that. We could explain simply. Well, if you wait until somebody’s already started getting agitated with the least little thing, you might have waited too long,” she said.
North Augusta Department of Public Safety, Aiken Department of Public Safety and Aiken County Sheriff’s Office all operate Project Lifesaver. Cannon said she worked with ADPS and an officer kept fresh batteries inside her husband’s bracelet monthly. She added when bracelets don’t work for patients who bother them, other options can help police keep track of people who leave the home.
“They either put it on the ankle and I heard of a woman, they always put a belt on her and they put it back there because she wouldn’t leave it alone and tried to cut it off or take it off,” she said.
Cannon said she never dealt with her husband fleeing the home. And she attributes that to making sure he was not agitated. But she said others who live with Alzheimer’s like Smith, could end up in places people least expect.
“She wouldn’t be behind this table, but we need to look behind this table. She’s never get in the water. Don’t count on that,” she said.
Cannon said the Project Lifesaver bracelet is worn all the time. Patients can wear it taking a bath and to bed because it does not come off.