Hampden launches free program to keep residents with Alzheimer’s, similar impairments safe

Posted Jan. 15, 2014, at 7:06 p.m.

HAMPDEN, Maine — Families affected by memory or cognitive impairments now have access to a new resource that could come in handy in the event that a loved one becomes lost or missing.

The Good Neighbor Program is available to any Hampden resident with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, memory or cognitive impairment conditions, according the town’s public safety officials.

Occasionally a person who has Alzheimer’s and similar conditions may leave their homes or other locations, either on foot or in a vehicle, and be unsure of how to return.

Signing up for Hampden’s Good Neighbor Program will ensure that the town’s public safety personnel already have on hand the information, including a recent photo, needed to get the person back home safely.

This will expedite the searches and significantly increase the chances of bringing people home safely.

“It’s an initiative that the Public Safety Department developed,” Town Manager Susan Lessard said Wednesday, adding that Good Neighbor arose from a survey that the town’s public safety personnel conducted to see what residents would like to have in terms of public safety services.

There is no cost to the town for providing the service, she said.

“If this program helps even one person [who is lost or missing], it will be well worth it,” Lessard said.

To sign up, the person with the memory or cognitive disorder — or an authorized family member or friend — submits a form containing information about the participant, including their medical condition, vehicle information if applicable and who to contact in the event of an emergency.

Authorized persons must submit to Hampden public safety documentation showing their authority, such as power of attorney, guardianship or advanced directive.

The information on the form will be made available to public safety personnel should the person be reported lost or missing. The information on the participant form will be kept confidential by the town to the greatest extent required by law, including the privacy of health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.

The enrolled person will remain in the program until they, or an authorized person, provides the the public safety department with written notice of withdrawal, according to a news release issued by the town’s police department.

Public safety personnel will periodically contact the enrolled person, or the authorized responsible person, to make sure that the information on the participant form is up to date. The photo may also be updated.

Participant forms are available at the town’s Public Safety Department at 106 Western Ave., or can be downloaded from the town’s website at www.hampdenmaine.gov.

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