January 9th, 2012 at 3:54 pm
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GPS shoes could limit Alzheimer’s wandering

by Judy Kirkwood

Remember the nightmare panic of losing your toddler in a crowded store? The same thing goes for taking an Alzheimer’s patient on a shopping excursion, as well as taking care of your family member or caregiving charge while traveling, or even at night or when you might doze off or take a nap thinking that they are napping as well.

Kimberly R. Kelly, a former sheriff and creator of the DVD for law enforcement agencies Plain Talk About Alzheimer’s Disease: Alzheimer’s Related Dementia and Wandering cites research that 60 percent or more of Alzheimer’s patients will wander away from home at some point: finding them quickly is critical. Once disoriented, they may not respond to their name because they don’t remember it, and may even try to hide if they become paranoid.

Prevent Alzheimer’s wandering: GPS Shoes

That’s why a pair of GPS-enabled shoes is making news in health circles. Certified by the Federal Communications Commission, the GPS system implanted in the heel of shoes created by GTX Corporation and manufactured by Aetrex Worldwide helps ensure the safety of mobile patients who are suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease or various forms of dementia. The shoe has received the Peoples Choice award for most innovate connected device.

As of January, it was projected that 4,500 of the shoes would be available to the over 5 million people in the US who suffer from Alzheimer’s. The shoes are expensive at $300 plus a monthly service fee of about $35. But, once the shoes are double-tied in the morning, a cognitively impaired senior is not likely to take them off without help.

Alzheimer’s and GPS shoes: How they work

The shoes give caregivers the capability to monitor the whereabouts of their patients as well as set up alerts for certain boundaries that should not be crossed. Once a boundary is crossed, the caregiver gets an email alert on computer, a text message to their phone and a Google map update of the shoes’ location.

The idea for the shoes came about during the Elizabeth Smart case in 2002. What if she had been wearing GPS shoes when abducted? [although not likely in the case of a night abduction when a child is taken from bed]. GTX CEO Patrick Bertagna saw possibilities that could develop for a broad array of uses for personal location technology for children, the elderly, pets, valuables. The company now has 20 patents in development.

For those who fear losing their loved one to an episode of wandering, these shoes are like the invention of the safety belt. Hopefully they can cut down on the loss of life and increase confidence in monitoring the whereabouts of a confused senior.

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One Response to “GPS shoes could limit Alzheimer’s wandering”

  1. Helen

    I think this is a super idea! Hopefully, the price will come down enough to make them available to all those with dementia or Alzheimers. All too often we see poignant articles in the paper about loved ones wandering off — with tragic results.

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