L.A. County Launches New Tracking Program for Those With Dementia, Autism

Los Angeles County has a new tool at its fingertips to locate missing people who suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s and autism. The program, L.A. Found, was launched Wednesday at the urging of Supervisor Janice Hahn and the “Bringing our loved ones home” task force she helped create last year.

The county will begin distributing tracking bracelets that relay information about a person’s whereabouts to sheriff’s deputies. A new department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services is also being created to coordinate more effective responses in missing persons cases.

“This technology literally enables lost loved ones to communicate their location to us,” said Sheriff Jim McDonnell at a news conference.

The new devices aren’t cheap. Family members or caretakers of an individual with Alzheimer’s, dementia or autism can purchase them for $325 once their application is approved by L.A. Found.

An estimated 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. That figure is expected to swell to nearly 14 million by 2050 due to a rapidly aging population.

Wandering is extremely common in patients with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and autism. About 60% of dementia patients and half of all children with autism will wander off at some point, posing grave risks to health and safety and straining police resources.