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Our View: Dementia registry a good and useful tool for Mohave County

November 28, 2018

Say a friend or relative hasn’t been heard from for 12 hours. A call to law enforcement might produce a shrug; plans change, people don’t always call. Wait a day, the caller might be told.

What, though, if the person has some illness or condition that renders them — or society — vulnerable? Dementia. Autism. Mental illness. Then an early phone call might get quicker attention but doesn’t in itself resolve the situation. Mohave County Sheriff Doug Schuster wants to start a registry for those with mental conditions or characteristics that would be readily available to law enforcement. It’s a worthy idea that has the potential to save time, worry, injury or even death.

Patterned after a similar program in the Phoenix area, the program would require a photo and fairly detailed information on the person and their particular condition. The Chandler program makes the information available only to law enforcement.

In Lake Havasu City, it’s fairly common for watches to be posted for elderly people who wander from home. Schuster, though, says the program’s inspiration came from the death of a 7-year-old autistic boy in Bullhead City. Other vulnerabilities noted in the Phoenix-area program include blindness, developmental disabilities and mental illness.

Alzheimer’s and dementia is front and center these days as its incidence grows with an aging boomer population. Incidents of wandering away will probably only increase.

The Chandler program’s application seeks information on the person’s communication style, such as whether they require sign language, and their favorite haunts.

This type of information can really speed a search along as it doesn’t have to be gathered from scratch. Establishing this program is fairly easy and inexpensive for the county, it appears. The next part involves getting cities in the counties to participate so the information can be easily shared.

This program seems an obvious and useful way to help protect some of the most vulnerable people in the community so we hope it can be in place early in 2019.

— Today’s News-Herald

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