The Alzheimer’s Association is helping caregivers track their loved ones when they walk or drive by adapting technology that was initially developed for monitored prisoners.
Using a Web-based mapping system in conjunction with a transmitter, families can be alerted when a loved one goes beyond certain virtual boundaries each family can set.
More than 5 million Americans are estimated to have Alzheimer’s, and upwards of half of those are in the disease’s early stages. Alzheimer’s is of particular importance in West Virginia, the state with the highest average age. An estimated 42,000 West Virginians have the disease – a number that is projected by the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services to grow to 105,500 by the year 2024.
Because of increasingly early diagnosis, many patients have years of independent living ahead of them before they would have to give up their car or stop going out alone.
Nearly 60 percent of Alzheimer’s patients eventually begin what’s called wandering, creating a need for a greater supervision to ensure their safety. While the tracking will not replace in-person supervision, it can help a person maintain their independence and dignity.
For more information on the program, which is known as Comfort Zone, please visit the Alzheimer’s Association website at www.alz.org.