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Seminar offered on lost people with dementia

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office search-and-rescue officials, through a partnership with California Oregon Regional Search and Rescue, is hosting a public event aimed at improving safety for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Kim Kelly, an expert on searching for people who wander due to memory disorders, will provide information and tips for caregivers to help keep their loved ones safe.

The free seminar is from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Smullin Health Education Center, 2825 E. Barnett Road, Medford. The event is open to the public, but seating is limited and will be filled on a first-come basis.

The target audience for the seminar includes caregivers of people with memory disorders, law enforcement, security personnel and anyone who may be in a position to help protect someone with a tendency to wander.

“From a SAR perspective, we know that people with dementia who wander can get hurt or die — sometimes before anyone even realizes they are missing,” said Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Shawn Richards. “Taking steps to understand and prevent these incidents will surely save lives.”

Kelly will discuss how memory-related diseases progress, the dangers of wandering behavior and how to recognize a wanderer. She will offer guidance on technology and programs that can help locate wanderers, as well as tips for making reports to law enforcement and search and rescue when someone goes missing.

In addition to the public event, Kelly will spend the week working directly with search-and-rescue personnel from around the region.

Staff and volunteers from the agencies that make up California Oregon Regional Search and Rescue will attend training events designed to improve the effectiveness of searches for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

The 10 counties involved in the regional group are Jackson, Josephine, Douglas, Coos, Curry, Klamath and Lake counties in Oregon, as well as Del Norte, Modoc and Siskiyou counties in California.

Kelly is the author of “Project Far From Home: Understanding and Managing the Search for the Missing At-Risk Alzheimer’s Subject.” She is a contributing writer to “In Search of the Alzheimer’s Wanderer: A Workbook to Protect Your Loved One” and “Urban Search: Managing Missing Person Searches in the Urban Environment.”

Kelly was the founder of Project Far From Home, an educational program designed to teach law enforcement, fire, EMS and search-and-rescue teams about missing and at-risk Alzheimer’s subjects.

Kim Kelly