According to the Alzheimer´s Association at the 2011 International Conference AAIC in Paris, it is estimated that about 35 million people worldwide are affected by Alzheimer´s disease. Many people are directly or indirectly facing the illness. Until a cure is found, innovative technological tools have been created to increase safety for Alzheimer´s or related dementia patients.
A service called Comfort Zone is offered by the Alzheimer´s Association. This web-based GPS application includes a location-based mapping service (LBS). Individuals with Alzheimer´s carry a pager or wrist-worn device while travelling. The device receives signals from satellites or nearby cell towers. It is then able to measure the patient´s approximate location. Thus, family members can access their loved-one’s information via the application on-line or by calling the monitoring center. Other options include receiving alerts when the person has travelled in or out of a zone.
Comfort Zone monthly plans come with the existing MedicAlert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return service: an emergency assistance 24/7 for individuals with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia having a medical emergency, family notification and care consultation service.
The EmFinders program is another technological tool that helps to rapidly locate and recover patients in case they get lost. By wearing the Emfinders GPS tracking bracelet the exact location of the patient can be determined. This system uses existing cell phone-triangulation technology. It is an easy and reliable way for the caregivers to find lost patients 24/7 thanks to a wireless device. In the event a patient becomes lost, the caregiver calls the police to notify them and then contacts Emfinders who will then activate the eldercare device. Once that is done, 911 operators can use their already-existing technology and electronic maps to find the patient.
On a similar note, other electronic devices have been created to help in locating individuals with Alzheimer´s or dementia such as the Adiant Solutions S-911 GPS Bracelets, the GTX Corp GPS Shoes, the GPS Tracking Device Online bracelets, wristwatches and shoes, and the Lojack SafetyNet Bracelet.
All these tools and applications combine the latest technology with endless flexibility. The patients and families know that these programs can have some technological limits such as disruptions in satellite signals or network coverage which impacts or delays location information. However, they make the people affected by this disease safer and are helping their families to better manage the disease.
The 2012 Alzheimer´s Association International Conference will be hold on July 14th-19th, 2012, in Vancouver.
This article has initially been posted by Lena Baudo on November 17th, 2011 on Opinno‘s blog (Open Innovation).