Text alerts help find Alzheimer’s patients

A new text alert system helps recover missing Alzheimer patients.

Officials in San Diego county recently announced a new program that will send out mass text messages if an Alzheimer patient goes missing. 

Alzheimer's is a big issue in the San Diego area. It is the county's third leading cause of death. Roughly 60,000 area residents currently have the disease and that number is expected to double by 2030, according to NBC San Diego.

A common problem with Alzheimer patients is that they wander off, which can turn tragic if not found as soon as possible. Much like amber alerts for missing children, these alerts will notify subscribers of patients who go missing.

According to The Alzheimer's Association, 60 percent of patient's with dementia will wander from their homes or other place of residence.

"This bottom line is time," Bob Estabrook, whose wife suffered from the disease, told The San Diego Union-Tribune. "I know [this program] will save lives."

The alert program is a part of a county-wide initiative called The Alzheimer's Project. Created in 2014, the project set out to not only find a cure, but to improve the lives of those with the disease and their caregivers. Though developed as part of this specific project, the alert can help those with other types of cognitive diseases.

"Wandering is a huge concern for families dealing with Alzheimer's, and this new alert could bring real peace of mind and save lives," The Alzheimer's Association Supervisor Dianne Jacob told the Union-Tribune.

Unlike amber alerts, this SMS service requires residents to opt into the program in order to receive alerts. The notifications are also location specific, so users can adjust the range in which they want to be notified.