Largo Police Test Free Tracking System for Older Adults
Largo Law enforcement will field test the SafetyNet® Tracking Search and Rescue (SAR) devices designed to help locate older adults with dementia or Alzheimer’s starting at 2 p.m., September 5 at Highland Recreation Complex.
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.
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. “To offer this help at no cost to older adults who rely on limited social security is such a tremendous service,” he said.
With one in 10 Americans over 65 suffering from Alzheimer’s, including more than 400,000 Florida residents. Largo estimates that more than 2,000 of its residents suffer from the disease, and 70 percent of these still live at home. That is why they applied for a grant from the Pinellas Community Foundation.
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.
“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.
Currently, SafetyNet® Tracking Systems operate in 22 states, with 12 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.
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