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Alzheimers Program Take me Home
FORT WALTON BEACH - An elderly man with Alzheimer's disease is back home after he went missing for most of the day Monday. Ray McGee drove away from his house in Fort Walton Beach, and was found at a gas station in Cottondale.
The Okaloosa Sheriff's Office has a program that helps law enforcement find people with special needs.
Laura Hussey says, "When 78-year-old Ray McGee went missing Monday, his family called the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office. The agency put out what's called an endangered adult alert"
McGee's neighbor Rudy sees him drive off every morning. He didn't expect a visit from deputies, saying McGee was missing.
Rudy says, "I was surprised because I didn't expect him to be in any difficulty or anything. I figured he was just a little late coming back home."
But this wasn't the first time McGee drove off and got lost. Last month, he ended up in Bay Minette.
McGee's neighbor Mike says, "I had no idea that was going on with him, it was a pretty big surprise, I had no idea"
Mike has a grandmother with dementia. The family worries about her wandering off.
Mike says, "It's gotten to the point where she stays in the same room with them at night, just to watch them at night. We set up a camera system so just 24-7 watching 'cause we don't want her to get out"
At first, Ray McGee's endangered adult alert went to news outlets without this picture. It took time for the family to find a photo and get it to law enforcement.
The Sheriff's Office says families can save precious time by registering loved ones with special needs for a program called "Take Me Home." A photo and personal information go into a special database, so no time is wasted in an emergency.
Mike says, "Heaven forbid she did get out, this would make the response quicker, to find her"
"Take Me Home" isn't limited to adults with dementia. Families can also register young people with conditions like autism.
Laura Hussey says, "Right now there are about 400 people registered in the Okaloosa Sheriff's Take Me Home database."