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“Any change in routine or dress is very agitating to them,” said Jenks of people with Alzheimer’s.

The cost also is a drawback, Jenks said.

“I think it is admirable that the sheriff’s department is doing this, but there may be some other options that are less costly,” he said.

The Alzheimer's Association sells a device and system that costs $10 to $60 a month and alerts families when somebody leaves a designated zone. The person with Alzheimer’s or dementia carries either a pager-sized tracking device in their pocket or a phone, or has a device installed in their car.

Another program called Project Lifesaver is used by about 1,250 law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Canada. Participants receive a plastic bracelet equipped with a waterproof radio transmitter that officers can use when alerted to quickly locate a person.

In Washington County, Ore., the sheriff’s office has 50 participants _ split evenly between children with Down syndrome or autism and seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia, said Marcia Langer, the department’s senior program educator. The agency asks participants to pay a onetime fee of $300, the cost of each bracelet. The devices greatly reduce search times, but caregivers must provide upkeep, including changing the battery every 30 days.

The unfortunate reality, Kallmyer says, is that the perfect locator device doesn’t yet exist for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

“The biggest problem is finding something they want to wear and doesn’t single them out and doesn’t create stigma,” Kallmyer said.

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Follow Brady McCombs at https://twitter.com/BradyMcCombs