Free Scent Kit can help Find Dementia Patients who Wander from Home

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR

We’ve all heard of stories on the news of elderly persons with dementia who go missing.

Most of the time, they have simply walked away from their homes and time is of the essence to find them and reunite them with their families, according to North Georgia Elder Abuse Task Force founder Joseph Gavalis.

“We found during our discussions with law enforcement that one of the most urgent needs is to help find a missing person; especially someone who might have dementia and tends to wander,” he said. “The problem is when you’re missing someone like this the importance here is time. But by the time you call them, you may have been looking for several hours, you looked for them, you called people, maybe you talked to people in the neighborhood.”

Speaking on WNEG’S sister station WLHR’S Community Forum, Gavalis said his group has come up with a free kit for families to help find a missing loved one.

It’s a simple kit that can preserve the scent of that loved one safely for years in the event they should wander away from home.

“We have a kit that we give out. It’s free. It comes through law enforcement. What it does it gets the scent of the person. It’s administered by a family member. It’s a wiping of the person under the arms or in the groin area to get the pure, uncontaminated scent and you put that cloth in a sealed glass jar. And that scent will last for up to five to seven years, he explained. “And in the event of someone who’s gone missing that scented cloth is shown to bloodhounds, called cold-tracking dogs to help find that person.”

The Lavonia Police Department is expected to have free scent kits available later this week.

Additionally, any local law enforcement agency in this area that would be interested in having the scent kits on hand to give to citizens who might want one can contact Joe Gavalis at the North Georgia Elder Abuse Task Force at 678-427-8761.