8-year-old at Ala Moana locates missing woman with Alzheimer's

Helen Romero was found safe at Ala Moana on Friday
Helen Romero was found safe at Ala Moana on Friday
Tiki Willis
Tiki Willis

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Helen Romero wandered from her care home Monday morning. Friday night, a family spotted her in the food court at Ala Moana Center.

"She looked a little more frail in real life," Dina Willis said.

Willis and her eight-year-old daughter, Tiki, used their smart phone to compare the woman in the food court to the picture of Romero shared from Hawaii News Now's Facebook page in an Alzheimer's alert.

"I just saw it and was like, 'Mom, it's her!'" Tiki said.

Honolulu police average a call a week of someone with memory loss who has gone missing. They are usually found by families or cops shortly after the 911.

"In the cases that we do report it or ask the public for help, there's dire need of their medication. Without it it could cause death," CrimeStoppers Sgt. Kim Buffett said.

The Alzheimer's Association of Hawaii has two devices that keep tabs on people with dementia. For $55 you can get an ID bracelet that's tough to remove or lose.

"On the bracelet it has information, including the 1-800 number for the 24-hour contact center. It also has information, if they wanted to put on there, that they are allergic to a certain type of medication, or that they're memory impaired," interim executive director Christine Payne said.

Another device called the Comfort Zone System costs $199. The electronic tracker is the size of a cell phone.

"With an on-line system you can set up safe zones," Payne said. "If they were to wander outside of those safe zones, you would be notified via text or email."

Payne said about 300 people in Hawaii wear the bracelet. But the majority of Alzheimer's sufferers don't, including Romero.

"At least somebody went up and spoke with her. We really appreciate that," Buffett said.

"I thought, what's the worst that can happen? They could just say it's not her," Dina Willis said.

Experts say six of ten Alzheimer's patients will wander.  The Willis's called police and helped give this story a happy ending.

"She's going home to her family where she belongs," Tiki Willis said.

If your loved one suffers from Alzheimer's and you need help, call the Alzheimer's Association 24-hour contact center at 1-800-272-3900.

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