KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — Bobbi Lukins know all too well what goes into being a caregiver for someone with dementia. She has taken care of her husband since his diagnosis in 2014.
“It’s 24/7,” Lukins said. “When they say it’s the longest day, it’s the longest day.”
But there is help for those caregivers. Lukins is taking part in the Alzheimer’s Association of West Michigan’s Savvy Caregiver session at the Ionia County Commission on Aging. They talk about managing the day-to-day responsibilities, everything from bathing to feeding to providing comfort for vulnerable adults.
Another concern is when a loved one wanders, often without any identification.
“Someone with dementia’s not going to necessarily be able to give you where they live, what their spouse’s name is, who they need to contact. I’ve got a lot of stories where that didn’t work out so well,” said Joy Spahn, regional director of the Alzheimer’s Association of West Michigan.
The Kent County Police Chief’s Association is offering help through a voluntary identification database for vulnerable people.
After filling out an online form, legal guardians can bring a person under their care into local police agencies and have them photographed.
“A photograph for law enforcement may not be at your fingertips. Maybe you’re not at home, maybe you’re at a store or something like that,” said Kentwood Police Chief Tom Hillen, who serves as president of the Kent County Chiefs of Police organization.
Vulnerable adults are also fingerprinted as part of the program.
Along with the picture and print, other information like addresses and caregiver contact information is stored in a database accessible to police. If a vulnerable person in the database goes missing, police can get to the information quickly.
If that person is found, they can be quickly identified. Most police agencies equip patrol cars with electronic fingerprint scanner.
“If we ran across somebody like this, who was confused, you could basically just take their fingerprint, and if they were enrolled in the system, it would come back and say, ‘They’re a vulnerable person, here’s their contact person,'” Hillen explained.
Michigan State Police charge a $30 processing fee. Local police also charge for the service, but Kent County police agencies are waiving their fees through the month of November.
“It’s going to be huge, I think, in terms of helping connecting families with their loved one again,” Spahn said.