Saturday, November 13, 2010

New Technologies Focused on Alzheimer's

November is Alzheimer's awareness month and today on CNN we discussed technologies focused on the disease affecting 5.3 million people.

In many cases patients in the early stages would be happier staying in their home. But, 60 percent of those with dementia are prone to wander off and a 54% chance of survival if not found within 24 hours – a caretaker or family member is given a tough decision.

Here are two technologies that can aide both emotionally and financially.

First, GPS Shoes.
GTX Corp, a company known for their GPS tracking technologies (many may recognize the GPS Tracking and iLoci A
pps) has paired with Aetrex (a foot health company) creating a GPS Shoe specifically for those with Alzheimer’s. Charging off USB and water resistant, it gives a family member or a caregiver the option of monitoring real-time from the Internet or on your phone in a ‘breadcrumb’ fashion. Also, it has the capability to set up safe zones. If a patient wanders off from the area the caretaker will be sent an alert by phone or web. The shoe uses GPS and cellular technologies. It will be available early 2011.

Second, EmFinder.

EmFinder is a location-finding device that basically looks like a watch. Links can be removed to adjust appropriately. It comes in two variations; EmSeeQ Secure Band, pronounced Em-Seek (which needs help getting on and off to ensure it won't be removed) or EmSeeQ Standard Band (which can be taken on and off just like an ordinary watch). The band can be worn on wrist, ankle or strung to laces.

As opposed to GPS or RFID, it uses a more reliable location finding technology called

U-TD0A, which is basically cell phone triangulation. Emfinders has a patent on this technology for personal location devices. Buy the device (~$200), pay the monthly fee (~$25), and call 911 if you suspect the wearer has wandered off. Then call Emfinders. EmFinders operation center activates the device, allowing 911 operations to then send response units to the rescue. The device should be charged twice a week and is waterproof up to 3 feet for 30 minutes – though not meant for swimming. Emfinders have thus far been successful and recently 95 bracelets have been purchased by Long Beach Police Department for people at risk in the community.

Both of these technologies might be deemed expensive, especially with subscription fees. However, the prices pale in comparison to the average monthly Alzheimer's adult day car facility, an estimated $3,500 to $7,000 per month.

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