Tuesday, March 4, 2014

GPS Shoes Save Lives of Alzheimer’s Patients

If you are experienced caregiver for the Alzheimer’s patient, you know quite well how much your loved one’ wondering may be a source of worries, emotional stress, and discomfort both for them and for you.

It is quite common that a person suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, wanders off and can't find their way back home. If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease the numbers show there is a big chance they'll wander off. According to the Alzheimer's Association, most patients will wander at least once during the progression of the disease, and many even three or more times.

It's especially important for people, who are in the earliest stages of Alzheimer's, since they are at the highest risk. These people might be still living in their home, but they may become occasionally confused with their surroundings. They can go for a walk, and unfortunately they can get lost for days.

But there is a new invention that could help you find them faster than involving police or social services.

The recently designed shoes with a built-in GPS system are selling in the USA, marketed especially for elderly people and Alzheimer’s’ patients, giving families and caregivers an easy way to track lost loved ones.

The Los Angeles company, GTX, patented a miniature GPS device, small enough to fit in the heel and do not cause any minor discomfort for the patient. The pair of shows equipped with buit-in technological devices, are sold for around $300 in stores.

Consultant   and assistant professor Andrew Carle at George Mason University’s Program in Senior Housing Administration said the shoes could save lives. “Sixty percent of people with Alzheimer's will wander off and get lost,” said Carle, a scare that prompts panicked family members to call the police. Carle said the shoes could be synched with Google Maps to pinpoint exactly where the person wearing them goes. The devices could even be programmed to send an alert if the wearer wanders out of a specified area, or”geo-fence.”

Carle said people with Alzheimer’s or dementia don’t always realize they are lost and, if frightened, they might even decide to hide from the search parties. There are “very high rates of death within 24 hours – and half of the Alzheimer’s patients die from injuries and dehydration,” he said. “It’s not good.”

There are other tracking options available, such as tracking bracelets and small assist buttons that can be stored in a pocket, clipped onto clothes or worn around the neck. Wander Guard is another alert system that triggers an alarm when someone opens a door to leave. However, GPS shoes have distinctive advantages, since the patients cannot remove or loose the tracking devices easily. They also do not depend on the mobile signal which might not be reliable in the certain areas.

The GTX system uses low power two-way GPS tracking technology that continually tracks the location and movement history of the wearer and relays the information to a monitoring center through mobile networks. The wearer can then be pinpointed by logging into a secure internet portal or via a smartphone app. The system also allows caregivers to receive an alert on their smartphone or computer with a direct link to Google maps plotting the wearer's location when the GPS shoe moves outside a preset area.

The GPS technology is protected inside a cavity made from a polycarbonate material placed in the midsole of the shoe, which GTX says should last for the normal duration of the shoe - one to three years.

The manufacturer website: http://www.gpsshoe.com/

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