RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — For Rich Gardner, Riverside’s “Get Home Safe” program is a timeless tribute to his late wife, Debbie.
Nearly four months ago, Debbie passed away at the age of 59, although it was four years ago when Alzheimer’s disease started to take over.READ MORE: Jo Lasorda, Wife Of Dodgers Great Tommy Lasodra, Passes Away At 91
“It was hard. The disease followed the course that I read on the computer. It was hard to watch,” Gardner told KCAL9’s Erica Nochlin.
With more than 60 percent of Alzheimer’s patient getting lost or wandering off, Gardner had to literally watch his wife. He even took steps to install extra locks and an alarm on the front door.
But even he recognized that those measures weren’t enough for some families and asked the Riverside City Council for help.
That’s when Riverside police Sgt. Charles Payne came up with an idea.READ MORE: WATCH: A Sneak Peek Of The Highly-Anticipated Academy Museum
Payne worked with a company that makes medical ID bracelets for runners and hikers and instead purchased them for Alzheimer’s patients with funds from community partners.
“With any bar-code reader application, it brings up something that looks like this. Has the person’s photograph. Has the person’s vital medical information that they choose to provide,” Payne said.
Now, police are giving the bracelets away.
“To have the City of Riverside take this, address this, and act upon it is just great,” Gardner said, adding that he feels the program will save lives and bring awareness to Alzheimer’s.
“To me, it means that she hasn’t died in vain,” Gardner said of his wife.MORE NEWS: Driver Killed, 5 Injured In El Monte Shooting, Crash
For information about enrolling in the program, click here or contact Police Program Coordinator Hilda Gonzalez at (951) 826-5235.