Five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease, and that number is expected to approach 1 million by the year 2050. A Florida family is hoping to change the face of Alzheimer's care after their loved one wandered off and never came back.
Right now state regulations don't require a nursing home or assisted living facility to do a routine head count of residents or to notify authorities when a patient is missing, but a south Florida family is vowing to change that.
Charles Klaer was a decorated war veteran, serving two tours of duty in Vietnam and one in Korea. On the battlefield he risked his life for others, but it was in the streets of south Florida that he came to his own death.
Army veteran Master Sergeant Charles Klaer was killed when he walked into traffic after wandering off from an assisted living center where he'd been living for six months.
Klaer was suffering from advanced Alzheimers. His family wants to know how he walked off in the first place. He was supposed to be wearing an electronic monitor.
"This is a tragic end for a man who fought the war, and for this to happen it's just not fair," says daughter Gail Tysenn.
The Klaer family said they had no idea their beloved chuck was missing at all until the accident that took his life. Now, the family is on a mission to reform the nursing home industry and require them to report missing patients to authorities.
"Because Mr. Klaer walked so far for such a great deal of time and that was enough time a search could've been done by a law enforcement officer before he was killed," says Chris Mancin, Attorney at Law.
The Klaer family was in town from Ft. Lauderdale to attend an Alzheimer's summit here in Tallahassee to encourage legislators to consider a new bill to reform the nursing home industry.
The family is asking for legislation to mandate that all care facilities require their patients to wear safe return bracelets, so in case they do wander off they can be identified.
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