Wandering among those with Alzheimer's and other types of dementias can present a serious problem for both caregivers and families. Until recently, asking authorities to issue a Silver Alert was one of several things that individuals could do to track down the person who wandered off. As Andrew Carle, a former rehab hospital director, said, some “family caregivers are afraid to go to the bathroom because when they get back, their loved one may be out the door.”
So how can we minimize this fear for caregivers?
Carle has invented a shoe with a GPS tracking device integrated into it to help locate older adults who are prone to wandering as a result of dementia. This same GPS technology can be found in today's smart phones and is often used to locate a lost phone or child. The GPS in Carle's shoe works the same way.
So how does it work? The GPS system allows you to set up a perimeter around an area that is safe and that you can monitor. Once the person wearing the shoes steps outside of this perimeter “Google maps pops up on [your] computer or phone to show [you] where” they are. Even if you are in a different state than the person you are monitoring, the GPS will still notify you with a pinpoint location of when and where they began to wander. As Carle said, “I can call the police and say, ‘My dad has Alzheimer’s and he’s wandering around and he’s at the corner of Fifth and Elm. Could you go get him?’
As technology advances and becomes cheaper to produce, I hope to see more inventions like this created to keep older adults safe and secure.