Caregiver tools to help with a loved one who wanders

Caregiver tools to help with a loved one who wanders
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Nolan A Machan

Nolan A Machan

Nolan Machan is the Publisher of OakvilleNews.Org and has over 41 years of local Oakville knowledge. He is committed to providing Oakville residents with the most up-to-date information about our great town.

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Most of us have gone through a moment where a child has just slipped out of eye sight. The heart of the caregiver starts to race and their blood pressure rises. Usually with in a few moments,  the child is located, but what happens when that doesn’t occur? What if that missing person has a cognitive disorder?

At that point security is called and failing a positive result, the police are called in. The Halton Regional Police are quick to use all the resources at their disposal, including their very powerful social media outlets. Usually, it takes just a few hours to locate the missing person.

However, what if the person who has gone missing is vulnerable due to a cognitive disorder. Halton Regional Police have  a program called Project Lifesaver. It is specifically designed to locate individuals. It combines radio technology with a coordinated police response to assist in locating wandering and disoriented loved ones.

How it works

Participants wear an electronic wristband that emits a signal every second, 24 hours a day. The band weighs an ounce. These transmitters are able to track through almost any obstacle, such as concrete walls and heavy wooded areas.

So should a loved one wander off or bolt away, all the caregiver needs to do is notify the police, who  immediately track the missing individual. It is extremely quick and efficient.

Who is Eligible

Typically individuals who have a tendency to bolt or wander are people who have  Alzheimer’s, autism, down syndrome, acquired brain injury or other kinds of cognitive impairment. Usually a doctor is consulted. The individual must be from Halton, and have a caregiver with them 24 hours a day. A legal guardian must understand and approve the Project Lifesaver application.

The application process

Each applicant is provided with comprehensive information about the program. The applicant is screened to ensure they meet the criteria. Once the individual has been registered, a police officer will visit the residence and collect all the paperwork.

They will attached the transmitter and ensure that it is working, and will need to change the battery and strap every 60 days. Those appointments typically take 15 minutes.


Photo Credit: HRPS

There is an initial one time charge of $400 for the transmitter, and an annual $60 charge for new batteries and straps. However, if this fee is prohibitive, please do not hesitate to contact the Halton Regional Police because there may be a subsidy that will cover these costs.

If you could use this program contact the Halton Regional Police Service’s Victim Services Unit at 905-825-4810.

Caregiver tips to deter wandering

  1. Ensure all exterior windows and doors have alarms. It can be as simple as hanging a bell.
  2. Camouflage exterior doors
  3. Use childproof door handle covers for exterior doors
  4. For sliding doors put a latch or hook well above eyesight
  5. Label all interior doors so the person knows where they go I.E. bathroom, kitchen
  6. Remove all keys so that they are not visible or easily accessible
  7. If they wander at night you can put a pressure sensitive alarm pad next to their bed
  8. Install fencing around your property


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