Project Lifesaver protects seniors and people with autism wherever they wander

Project Lifesaver protects seniors and people with autism wherever they wander
By: Aubrey Thomson Last Updated: August 25, 2020

As both Director of Business Development at Life Care Center of Valparaiso and President of Triad, Cathy Ellis is a major supporter and promoter of a program called Project Lifesaver. Project Lifesaver was created to protect both seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s and people of all ages with autism who tend to wander from their homes.

“Triad has been involved in Project Lifesaver since I can remember,” Ellis said. ”We’ve been around for about 18 years now and I’ve been a member for about 16 years. Triad is here for educational purposes and to get the word out about Project Lifesaver.”

Last year, Triad partnered with St. Mary Medical Center where they hosted a health fair. Vendors paid to set up tables at the facility where they were able to talk about their business, which, in turn, served as a fundraiser for Triad.

While Triad is responsible for educating the public about Project Lifesaver, they are by no means the only group involved in Project Lifesaver. Life Care Center of Valparaiso also recommends Project Lifesaver to seniors who need it.

“Life Care Center is skilled at nursing and rehab,” Ellis said. “Project Lifesaver is very important to me because we have a lot of people with dementia and Alzheimer’s that are not necessarily staying here long-term, but we have a rehab side that allows them to come in for short-term rehab and go home. Before they go home, we discharge planning and if we feel there is a need for them to have Project Lifesaver, then it all comes together.”

Aside from Triad and Life Care Center of Valparaiso, which are dedicated specifically to senior safety, health, and wellbeing, the Porter County Sheriff’s Office is an integral supporter of the program.

“The Porter County Sheriff’s Office is the one that spearheads the whole thing,” Ellis said. “The sheriff’s department takes care of the applications and distributes the actual GPS band. They put it on their wrist or ankle. If they wander, we’re able to locate them through a beacon. The department changes out the batteries every month, so they’re always involved with those people.”

If someone with the GPS band does wander away from the safety of their home, family, or caregiver, the sheriff’s department organizes a search and rescue party that follows the beacon to locate the lost person.

Ellis praises Project Lifesaver for the benefits it provides to seniors and people with autism as well as their caregivers and families.

“I think the peace of mind that the families and the caregivers feel when Project Lifesaver is in place is unbelievable,” she said. “We had a family come out to one of Triad’s Find the Sheriff events who had a young daughter with special needs and she had the bracelet.”

Considering the peace of mind people get with Project Lifesaver, Ellis was surprised that so few people are aware of the program. She wants people to step up and help Triad to educate the public so they can provide that security to more members of the community.

“If anyone’s interested in spreading the word, they’re all welcome,” Ellis said. “We’re always looking for people to come out and volunteer to educate the community as best we can. Keep an eye on neighbors, friends, and grandparents. We’re here to protect our seniors. We’re their biggest advocate.”

For more information about Project Lifesaver, visit the Life Care Center of Valparaiso's website at https://lcca.com/locations/in/valparaiso/ or visit Triad of Porter County's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Triad-of-Porter-County-1552805031707612/?ref=page_internal.