Airline Accused of Losing a Man with Alzheimer's In Atlanta Airport

Alzheimer's Association
Wednesday, 17 March 2004

News reports appeared nationwide today about an airline accused of "losing" an 80-year-old man with Alzheimer's disease between flights in the Atlanta airport. The man was missing for nearly 24 hours. The Alzheimer's Association created the Safe Return Program for situations such as this, and if the man had been enrolled in the program, he might have been reunited with his family sooner.

Since its inception in 1993, the Safe Return program has registered more than 110,000 people and has facilitated the recovery of nearly 8,000 of individuals with Alzheimer's disease who wandered and become lost.

" No two people experience Alzheimer's disease in the same way, therefore it is impossible to predict which individuals with Alzheimer's will wander and get lost. However, if a person wanders once, they will likely do it again," said Kathy O'Brien, senior vice president, program and community services for the Alzheimer's Association.

" The Alzheimer's Association has made education about the triggers of wandering and ways to prevent it a priority. In the event that a person with Alzheimer's disease does wander and become lost, the Safe Return Program is in place to immediately notify local law enforcement and emergency responders, and aid them in their search and rescue," O'Brien said.

The government-funded program operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week by working through Alzheimer's Association chapters across the country, community members, law enforcement and other emergency responders. The only program of its kind specifically for people with Alzheimer's, Safe Return has a near 100 percent success rate in safely returning those registered in the program.

About Safe Return

Safe Return provides registrants and their families with a personalized bracelet and other identification products, and stores contact information in a confidential, national computerized database. The program's nationwide, toll-free 800 number is listed on the identification pieces.

The program utilizes a 24-hour, toll-free emergency incident line, and provides wandering behavior education and training for caregivers, families, law enforcement, and other emergency responders. Local Alzheimer's Association chapters provide family support and assistance while police conduct the search and rescue.

The registration fee for the Safe Return Program is $40 and can be done by phone, mail or online. For more information about the Safe Return Program, contact the Alzheimer's Association at 800.272.3900.

For more information, or to contact Alzheimer's Association, see their website at:

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