Special bracelet tracks down dementia patient - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Special bracelet tracks down dementia patient

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - A small piece of plastic is credited with saving an East Texas family from hours of worry.

Police say a 78-year-old man in the early stages of dementia took off in his truck, leaving his wife behind at the intersection of Shiloh and Paluxy drive.

Within minutes, police were able to track him down in the 2,500 block of Englewood Avenue.

A weekly outing to a dementia support group turned into a search for Melvin Dews.
His wife, Ruth, says a little argument sparked a very scary situation.

"I said, 'Well if you're unhappy with my driving, I'll just let you go home and I'll get somebody to take me home.' I didn't think he was going to drive away, but he did," says Ruth.

That's when the bracelet Melvin is wearing comes in to play. It's a tracking device used to keep up with dementia and Alzheimer patients.

Had Melvin not driven home, police say the plastic piece of technology would have helped them locate him in less than 30 minutes.

Sergeant Bill Goecking says, "Speed is the essence in situations like this. They may trip, they may hurt themselves, some animal may come in contact with them."

Jamie Huff with Alzheimer's Alliance of Smith County says about 35 people in the county wear these bracelets. She's hoping Melvin's story will inspire others to do the same.

"I'm hoping that people will come to realize that if they have a family member with these types of problem that they can get one of these bracelets and it help with worrying about where they might go," says Huff.

The Alzheimer's Alliance of Smith County says they have grants to help families get these life saving bracelets.

You can contact the Alzheimer's Alliance of Smith County by calling (903) 509-8323 or by visiting www.alzalliance.org

Copyright 2011 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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