LA County Is Giving Away Bracelets To Help You Keep Tabs On Loved Ones With Dementia Or Autism

L.A. County's new bracelet will be trackable by radio frequency technology. (Photo courtesy of Henry Salazar/LA County)

If you know someone with dementia or autism, you know there's always a risk they may wander off and get lost.

A new program that launched in Los Angeles County Wednesday aims to prevent that by using a tracking bracelet that can quickly locate anyone wearing it.

The technology has worked in other places, but the size of L.A. County, which covers 4,000 square miles, makes finding people much more challenging.

HOW DOES THE TRACKING WORK?

The bracelets are trackable via radio frequency technology. If someone goes missing, police agencies or sheriff's stations will inform the Sheriff's Department Mental Evaluation Team, which will deploy resources to start the search. Electronic handheld receivers will be used to help a ground search, or they can be taken aboard helicopters for a search from the sky.

The devices are located through an electronic chirping signal on a frequency that's not audible to the human ear.

WILL THOSE WEARING THE BRACELETS BE CONSTANTLY MONITORED?

No. Only if they go missing and their caregivers notify authorities.

(Photo by Mary Plummer/LAist)

HOW MUCH DO THE BRACELETS COST?

A limited number of bracelets — 330 — are available for free, with funding provided by the city of L.A., L.A. County and Supervisor Janice Hahn's office. You can also purchase them for $325 each, plus shipping and handling.

HOW CAN I GET ONE?

To apply for a free bracelet, visit LAFound.com or call 833-569-7651. They are available on a first come, first served basis.

ANY CHALLENGES WITH GETTING LOVED ONES TO WEAR THE BRACELETS?

Some people with dementia, Alzheimer's or autism have sensory issues and may have trouble wearing a bracelet. If your family member doesn't want to wear the bracelet right away, officials advise to keep trying. You can also experiment by having the bracelet on for short periods of time until your family member is comfortable wearing the device.

Ensuring that the bracelet has an adequately charged battery is also important if a loved one goes missing for a long time. The batteries last between 30 and 90 days, according to an L.A. County Sheriff's official.

HOW SUCCESSFUL HAVE THESE BEEN IN OTHER PLACES?

One example is the city of Glendale, which started a program locally three years ago. So far it's worked successfully about 15 times — a 100 percent success rate.

HOW DID THE PROGRAM COME ABOUT?

L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn was the lead author of an initiative that passed unanimously in February 2018. Supervisor Kathryn Barger joined as co-author.

The package included a pilot program for the trackable bracelets as well as other strategies such as improving community alert systems, better training for law enforcement and bolstered coordination in missing person searches among local hospitals.

The cost of the program is $765,000.


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