Critter Corner: Project Lifesaver Programs for Loved Ones Who Wander

Dear Oakley,

My grandmother, Shirley, will be moving in with us. She has dementia and has been known to wander outside the home. Are there any programs in the DC area to help people like her? Thanks for your help!

Wanda Ruhr

Dear Wanda,

There are many programs in the DC metro area that help monitor individuals who tend to wander because of dementia or other conditions. Most local jurisdictions participate in the nonprofit Project Lifesaver, a national program designed to send a large bag of your loved one’s favorite hard candy every month at no charge! Families can select bags of Peppermint Lifesavers, Wint O Green (aka Ben Gay) Lifesavers, or the fruit variety. The concept behind this program is that people love Lifesavers, and as long as you keep the Lifesavers at home, your loved one will want to stay at home in order to continue enjoying their favorite hard candy, instead of wandering around in search of this delectable delight.

April Fools’ pranks aside, the real Project Lifesaver is a very important search-and-rescue program in which each participant is given a tracker (either a wrist bracelet or an ankle band) to assist public safety officers who use radio frequency to locate the participant when the participant wanders. The tracker band emits a silent radio frequency. When caregivers notify the appropriate jurisdiction’s law enforcement agency that their loved one is missing, specially-trained public safety personnel respond to the area and conduct a search with state-of-the-art locating equipment. Project Lifesaver serves the needs of children and adults with autism, Down syndrome, and cognitive impairments, such as Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia that may cause participants to wander and not find their way back home. Participants with this program must be monitored 24/7 and live with someone else.

Here is a list of, and links to, the various Project Lifesaver programs throughout the DC Metro area:


Fairfax County, Virginia: click here.

Arlington County, Virginia: click here.

City of Alexandria, Virginia: click here.

Prince William County, Virginia: click here.

Loudoun County, Virginia: click here.

Fauquier County, Virginia: click here.

Culpeper County, Virginia: click here.

Spotsylvania County, Virginia: click here.

King George County, Virginia: click here.

Stafford County, Virginia: click here.

City of Fredericksburg, Virginia: click here.

Orange County, Virginia: click here.

Rappahanock County, Virginia: click here.

Louisa County, Virginia: click here.

Hanover County, Virginia: click here.

Westmoreland County, Virginia: click here. 

Caroline County, Virginia: click here.


Montgomery County, MD: click here.

Prince George’s County, MD: click here.

Howard County, MD: click here.

Annapolis, MD: click here.

Calvert County, MD: click here.

Frederick County, MD: click here.

Charles County, MD: click here.

St. Mary’s County, MD: click here.

Washington, DC
In DC, Project Lifesaver can be accessed through the VA Medical Center at 50 Irving Street NW, Washington, DC. For more information, call 202-745-8000.

For other local and national Project Lifesaver programs, click here. For more details on the national Project Lifesaver program, click here.

Hope this helps,


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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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