San Diego, California - A new pilot programs helps those with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia who are in crisis. The County-led Alzheimer’s Response Team, also called ART, launched earlier this year in the East County. It links first responders, social workers and others together to get the right type of help in an emergency for patients and their families. Dementia can cause those with the disease to become disruptive and violent, behaviors that can land them in jail or an emergency room when social service programs may be a better fit.

Those supporting the program included County of San Diego Aging and Independence Services, the Sheriff’s Department and other public agencies, along with the Grossmont Healthcare District, Sharp HealthCare and Alzheimer’s San Diego. ART assesses crisis calls made by community agencies and first responders and then determines the most appropriate course of action. Since June, the program has fielded about 50 calls and opened more than 20 cases.

The program is an outgrowth of The Alzheimer’s Project, the County-led initiative to find a cure and help families struggling with the disease. By 2030, the number of local residents 55 and older with dementia is expected to increase 36 percent – from more than 84,000 today to 115,000, according to a County study earlier this year.