GPS Shoes Now Available for Seniors with Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Mental diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s can be really distressing especially for the caregivers. The person that suffers from this disease is not even aware of the hardships that their caregivers go through. Aside the financial and physical toll that a caregiver experiences, the emotional one is the hardest, particularly the fear of losing your loved one. A person with dementia or Alzheimer’s can just leave the house without any announcement and then cannot go back to his home. Having a loved one lost can be really devastating and because of that many companies on the market have tried to design products that will relieve the care of the people with these diseases.

What mostly caught the attention was the design of the GPS SmartSole that has been created by GTX Corp. These insoles are light and discreet and the person that wears them will not even notice them, but the most important thing is that they have GPS and cellular technology so that at any time you can check where your loved person is. The caregiver via a phone or computer can always track the person with dementia. Having GPS in the shoes is the best option as no one leaves the home without shoes.

According to Andrew Carle, a professor at George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services, around 5 million Americans struggle with this disease and along with them their close ones. The chances of being lost are 60% in these patients along with higher risk of dying from injury, dehydration, or exposure.

He states the following:

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.”

Lynette Louise, a therapist and an expert in developmentally disabled persons, recommends the use of this product so that her patients can enjoy walking and at the same time be safe.

Ray Ciancaglini is a former professional boxer who sadly also suffers from dementia, and his wife Patti Ciancaglini bought him these insoles as he loves his walks on their property. This invention is great for his wife as now she is at peace when he is outside.

This invention is ideal for children as well. The company has created a version for children so that parents can track their children. Yet, they are still not available on the market especially the ones for young children and toddlers. Smaller versions exist that can be trimmed down to size for older children that would be ideal for children with autism or other spectrum disorders.

SmartSole will be very helpful for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia, people suffering from traumatic brain injury, children with special needs, and any person that is at risk of wandering.

So far, this product can be purchased only in three sizes (large, medium and small), but thanks to its design it can be trimmed down to specific sizes. The large size is used for men and can go down from 15 to 12, the medium size is for women being trimmed from 14 to 10, and the small one can be trimmed down to children’s size 4 to 3.

Patrick Bertagna, chief executive of GTX Corp, stated:

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.”

Although it is a great invention it is not approachable for every person since many families cannot afford them. Plus, the GPS works only in places where there is GPS transmission and if there is electrical interference it cannot be used.

In addition to this, many say that a GPS cannot substitute a supervision of a human being, and if the senior gets involved into a dangerous situation, the shoes cannot help him. Plus, some state that the use of locating devices is unethical depriving the patient from its freedom, independence, and dignity.

Nonetheless, many find this invention very helpful and if you are interested in buying one, these three are the most common tracking devices:

  1. GPS devices

These devices are commonly implemented in shoes like the ones we presented in the text, then in watches and ankle straps.

  1. Homing devices

They are based on radio signals that locate the designated person and can be used indoors, but they have a short-range of less than five kilometers.

  1. Cell phones

The latest brands of cell phones come with a locating system where the user can dial 911.

What option you will choose depends on the senior and its stage with Alzheimer’s and the specific situation. It is up to the families to decide which option would be most suitable for their loved one.