LONDON, England (CNN) — A new shoe outfitted with a GPS chip aims to offer peace of mind to Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers. It’s common for people with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia to wander from their homes. The embedded GPS tracking system will allow the wearer of the shoe to be located instantly online and for their whereabouts to be monitored in real time. The shoe may offer hope to the growing number of people with Alzheimer’s disease. More than 26 million people worldwide live with Alzheimer’s, and the figure is set to exceed 106 million by 2050, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health. "This could not only save lives but potentially save governments billions in search and rescue operations," Andrew Carle, a professor at George Mason University who was an adviser for the project, told CNN. Patients of Alzheimer’s, the leading cause of dementia, can easily become confused or disoriented, and it’s common for them to wander from their home and not be able to find their way back. Read more .
I frequently get queries here at the GPS Tracking ROI blog regarding ways to track individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other problems that may cause them to wander and get out of touch.
There are a number of solutions out there, some sponsored and endorsed by communities and support groups. Most solutions on the market today are “bird dog” style devices … that is the patient wars some sort of transmitter and when they go missing, searchers carry a receiver that (hopefully) picks up the signals from the patient’s device and helps them follow it to the patient’s locations.
This technology has a couple significant advantages. First, it works any time the patient isn’t completely shielded from electronic emissions. In a building, in deep woods, on a bus, no problem, if the search team can receive the signal, they can find the “wanderer”.
Second the devices are small, light and relatively cheap.
Third, use of the location technology is typically under the control of police or other first responder organizations so random or nefarious location attempts are minimal or none existent.
First and foremost, if the patient gets out of range of the homing device, they are gone … vanished. No chance of finding them unless they wander back in range.
Second, because they tracking device is typically under government agency control, every ‘wander off’ has to be handled by first responder professionals who might well be needed elsewhere for more life critical situations.
And third, there is no level of response option. Find the person or don’t go find him,. No possibility of more subtle monitoring like a loved one being able to tell the patient is still in their nursing home, at the park where they like to spend a few hours, in the library where they sometimes spend an afternoon, etc.
Properly designed GPS tracking equipment can eliminate all these negatives and work to the advantage of the patient’s family or the care giving agency. Wearable, non-intrusive GPS tracking deices are what’s needed.
They are coming on the market now, but all too slowly in my view. The GPS shoe idea looks very promising. In the meantime, some of the devices in our GPS store or the very promising BrickHouse Child Locator might help.