News headlines often read “Police searching for missing Alzheimer’s patient.” People with Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia, can often get confused and disoriented, and end up wandering off. Earlier this year, Ontario introduced a “Silver Advisory” program, similar to the Amber Alerts that are used to help locate missing children, to solicit the public’s help with finding wandering Alzheimer’s patients. Now caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s may be able to engage technology to help them.
GTX Corp, Aetrex and Omnilink Systems are working together to launch a series of shoes with built-in GPS tracking devices. The GPS shoes are expected to go on sale in the United States this month at a price of around $300. Purchasers will be able to subscribe to a service that will help them track Alzheimer’s patients and locate them if they wander off. According to Andrew Carle, a professor at George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services, more than five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s and 6o percent of them wander and get lost. Patients who are missing for more than 24 hours can die of dehyrdration, exposure or injury, all of which can be prevented simply by knowing where the patient is.
Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient takes a significant toll on family members, who have difficulty watching their loved one slip away. As the number of Alzheimer’s patients continues to grow (Carle expects numbers to quadruple in coming years), the potential for them to go missing, resulting in expensive searches and potentially deadly results, also increases. Products such as these shoes can provide peace of mind for caregivers and also increased independence for Alzheimer’s patients who won’t need to be monitored as closely at all times.
Photo credit: h.koppdelaney on flickr