Fairfield man with dementia found in Pa.; highlights growing problem
An elderly Fairfield man with dementia was found Tuesday night in Pennsylvania, about four hours after he called his wife to say that he was lost in Danbury.
It was second incident in less than a week in which the town's emergency-services officials had to cope with an elderly person with diminished mental capacity who had become lost.
On Saturday night, Fairfield firefighters were called to the Interstate 95 rest stop in town where a 90-year-old Quincy, Mass., woman stopped to buy gas but was confused, thinking she was still in her hometown.
In the most recent case, Martin Anflick, 78, turned up in Pennsylvania and was staying with friends, Sgt. Suzanne Lussier, a spokeswoman for Fairfield police, said Wednesday morning. He was located there by one of his former rabbis, and spent the night in Scranton with friends.
Anflick had called his wife from Danbury about 6 p.m. Tuesday, and a "Silver Alert" missing-person bulletin was issued.
State Police and officers in several local departments had been on the lookout for Anflick's gray 1999 Nissan Quest minivan since the alert was issued.
In the Saturday incident, Firefighter Bob Smith said it proved difficult for emergency responders questioning the Massachusetts woman to obtain useful information, although they were finally able to contact a niece.
Smith said the local firefighters' union planned to pay for a hotel room for the elderly woman until a relative arrived the next day to take her home, but with many visitors in town for the Fairfield University graduation that weekend, no rooms were available. Instead, he said, she ended up spending the night at the Jennings Road Fire Station.
Both Lussier and Smith said the incidents reinforce the need for seniors, and their families and caregivers, to take steps to ensure emergency personnel will be able to quickly find contact information if they become disabled or confused.
Lussier said Fairfield participates in the Yellow Dot program, a nationwide initiative that provides seniors with a yellow sticker that is affixed to their car's windshield. The sticker alerts emergency personnel that there is a folder in the car's glove box that contains medical information, a photo and contact numbers.
She encouraged seniors to make sure they are signed up for the program.
"More and more seniors are still driving," Smith said, and incidents like the two recent Fairfield cases are becoming more common. He also suggested senior drivers make sure they always have a cell phone with them that includes emergency contact numbers.
People can alert emergency responders to the fact that contact phone numbers are stored in a phone's address book by placing an "ICE" sticker -- from www.ice.com -- on the back of the phone. Many smart phones also have applications available to download that puts emergency personnel in direct contact with an elderly person's contacts.
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