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A GPS Shoe? Don't Laugh. It Could Help Track Wanderers


People with dementia or Alzheimer's who wander off and get lost are a big problem for family caregivers and nursing facilities. One new solution:  A locator shoe equipped with a GPS tracking device.

Paula Span, who writes about aging issues for the New York Times, did a recent column on the GPS Shoe, which is scheduled to go on the market at the end of the month.

The idea for the shoe came from Andrew Carle, a former rehab hospital director who now heads the senior housing program at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

Carle knew there were location-tracking shoes in development for marathon runners and children, but he thought the company developing them was missing a key market -- people with dementia who wander. After all, more than 60 percent of people with dementia will wander from their homes, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

"Little kids can carry cell phones with GPS. We have far more seniors wandering off every day who don't call for  help," Carle told the Times.

People with Alzheimer's and other dementia disorders often don't think they're lost, he added. And even when they're found by police or others, they may be unable to supply their names and addresses.

The way the shoe works is that a family member sets a perimeter, a "geo-fence," that allows the wearer to move freely around a specific area -- a home, yard, even a neighborhood. But if he  goes beyond that set perimeter, "Google maps pops up on my computer or my phone to show me where he is," Carle explained.

The shoes, manufactured by GTX Corporation, won't be cheap: They will cost nearly $300, plus a monthly subscription fee of $30 to $40, according to the Times.

For other tips on dealing with elders who wander, click on this list of tips the Bulletin published from the Alzheimer's Association.

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