LARGO, Florida – August 29, 2018 – In the last 18 months, The City of Largo Police spent 760 hours on missing person calls, many due to cognitively impaired older adults who habitually wander. Now searches just got easier. An electronic tracking system, funded by the Pinellas Community Foundation (PCF), is being launched by the Largo Police Department. The SafetyNet® bracelet monitors are being made available at no charge to Largo older adults.
WHAT: Live field test of The SafetyNet® Tracking Search and Rescue (SAR)
WHEN: 2 p.m. Wednesday, September 5
WHERE: Highland Park, 400 Highland Ave NE, Largo, Florida
HOW: Trainers hide Personal Locator Units (bracelets) in the 33-acre park for law enforcement to track
WHO: SafetyNet® Tracking System officials, Largo Police, law enforcement from nearby counties
- 1 in 10 Americans age 65+ suffers from Alzheimer’s*
- 421,786 Florida residents age 65+ have Alzheimer’s*
- Based on Pinellas County’s population with Alzheimer’s, some 2,093 reside in Largo*
- 70% of all Alzheimer’s sufferers live at home, cared for by family and friends*
“Each year, Pinellas Community Foundation focuses on a specific community need,” said Duggan Cooley, the foundation’s CEO. “This year, our focus is on older adults because their need is so great.” To notify residents about the free service, PCF is working with the news media, City of Largo, Largo police, and Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas, Inc.
Joel Quattlebaum, Senior Services Officer for the Largo Police, said older adults with dementia or Alzheimer’s are at high risk of aimless roaming and face life threatening-situations if not found quickly. He recalls a recent case of a cognitively impaired woman who wandered all the way from Largo to Pinellas Park, and a man whose wife called 911 to report him missing was found in a ditch dehydrated and confused.
“To offer this help at no cost to older adults who rely on limited social security is such a tremendous service,” said Officer Quattlebaum. Without PCF’s grant, the purchase cost per bracelet is $500 or a lease plan of $200 for enrollment and $30 per month for monitoring.
Currently, SafetyNet® Tracking Systems operates in 22 states, with12 Florida communities participating, including Pinellas, Pasco, and Hillsborough. The City of Largo tracking service is among the only Tampa Bay offering the bracelet at no charge. “Though it’s relatively inexpensive to set up, most law enforcement agencies don’t have funds available to provide the service at no cost to the resident.” said Scott Martin, CEO of Boston-based SafetyNet® Tracking Systems Service.
Thanks to PCF’s $7,500 grant, 10 bracelets are available for loan. Additional bracelets are being funded by a local senior living residence. Interested caregivers or family members living in Largo may contact Officer Joel Quattlebaum 727-586-7351 for more information.
Pinellas Community Foundation (PCF) was founded in 1969. With nearly $100 million in charitable assets, PCF seeks effective solutions for Pinellas County’s most challenging social, environmental and educational issues, while supporting the advancement of arts and culture. PCF is the only charitable foundation of its kind solely dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for all Pinellas County residents. Since its founding, more than 262 charitable organizations have received $50 million in donor-funded grants to support their community programs. PCF’s mission is made possible through donor generosity. For information, call 727-531-0058 or visit www.pinellascf.org
*SOURCE: Alzheimer’s Family Organization, Center for Disease Control, Alzheimer’s Association, Florida Department of Elder Affairs, City of Largo Police, U.S. Census