County officials Thursday launched a San Diego-area community-alert system designed to help find missing Alzheimer's disease patients and others with cognitive impairments in the event that they wander away from home or get lost during outings.
The service allows local law enforcement agencies to directly notify participating members of the public via email and text message when someone with dementia or a developmental disability goes missing in the region.
Notifications will be issued through the county's AlertSanDiego network, which was created to inform residents about wildfires and other emergencies. The system can access cellphones and email addresses registered by the public and allows the Sheriff's Department to issue alerts in targeted communities.
The Alzheimer's Association estimates that six in 10 people with dementia will go missing at some point.
"Wandering is a huge concern for families dealing with Alzheimer's, and this new alert (system) could bring real peace of mind and save lives," county Supervisor Dianne Jacob said. "It gives law enforcement a powerful tool to enlist the public's help with the safe recovery of missing persons at risk."
The program is the latest initiative of the Alzheimer's Project, a county-led coalition created last year to aid in efforts to find a cure for the disease, and to help patients and their caregivers.
Residents can register for the new notification system online at readysandiego.org/alertsandiego/ .