Caregiving can take an emotional, financial and physical toll, and the biggest fear of every caregiver of a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s is their loved one getting lost and unable to return home.
To solve this issue and alleviate the caregiving burden, numerous companies have tried to design products that would easily track the patient.
A recent one, GPS SmartSole, created by GTX Corp, looks very promising. These light and discreet insoles have GPS and cellular technology to track the wearer via a phone or computer. Many believe they are a viable option as they are inserted in an item the patient always carries with him.
Andrew Carle, a professor at George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services, explains:
“The primary reason is that paranoia is a manifestation of the disease. If you put something on someone with Alzheimer’s that they don’t recognize, they remove it. If it’s a wristwatch and it’s not their wristwatch, they will take it off. So you have to hide it.”
He added that about five million Americans suffer from this disease, and 60% of them tend to wander and have an increased risk of dying from injury, dehydration, or exposure.
Therapist Lynette Louise specializes in developmentally disabled persons and recommends the product as it keeps her clients safe while they can freely enjoy walking.
Patti Ciancaglini, the wife of Ray Ciancaglini, the former professional boxer, bought him these insoles as he enjoys strolling outdoors on their property, and she claims that they give her peace of mind.
What’s more, the company also offers a version for parents to track their children if they get lost. Note that the version for very young children and toddler sizes is not available yet, but there are smaller versions you can be trimmed down to size for use with older children, perhaps with autism or other spectrum disorders.
Therefore, the SmartSole is suitable for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia, children with special needs, individuals with traumatic brain injury, and anyone at risk of wandering.
The innovative product comes in three sizes only, but its trimmable design allows you to trim it down to specific sizes. The large size can be trimmed down to men’s sizes 15 – 12, the medium size to women’s size 14 -10, and the small one can be trimmed down to kid’s size 4 – 3.
Patrick Bertagna, chief executive of GTX Corp, said:
“This is a significant milestone for both companies and while the $604 billion worldwide costs of dementia has become and will continue to be a significant fiscal challenge, the under $300 GPS enabled shoes will ease the enormous physical and emotional burden borne by Alzheimer’s victims, caregivers, and their geographically distant family members.”
Yet, the price is among the drawbacks of the insoles, as many families cannot afford to buy them. Moreover, GPS transmission will be limited in areas without electrical interference.
Furthermore, many argue that a GPS cannot substitute actual supervision, and in case the elderly person gets into a dangerous situation, the shoes won’t be able to help him.
Many maintain that locating devices are unethical, as they steal the independence, freedom, and dignity of the patient.
But if you are interested in the option, the following three are the most common tracking devices:
- GPS devices – They are found in items like these insoles, watches and ankle straps.
- Homing devices – They use radio signals to determine a person’s location and can be used indoors, even though they have a short-range of less than five kilometers.
- Cell phones – New phones have a locating system where the user can dial 911.
The most appropriate approach towards the care of seniors with Alzheimer’s depends on the individual and the specific situation, so it is advised that families discuss the possible options as soon as the patient receives the dementia diagnosis.