Suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia is not only a nightmare but it also poses a lot of risks. Patients suffering from such cognitive impairments don’t just live severely compromised lives, they are also at significant risk of getting lost or getting into accidents due to their conditions.
That’s why there are various global positioning systems (GPS) or other locator devices already in use by caregivers to help them track their dementia patients and relatives at all times. However, a new GPS locator item is here to potentially make it even easier for caretakers to locate their patients.
New GPS shoes are developed by the GPX Corporation specifically for Alzheimer’s and other dementia patients (1). This innovative solution to the problem is an excellent example of how sometimes you can just combine two pre-existing technologies to create something entirely new.
The GPS systems are hidden in the heels of the shoes which makes them not only inconspicuous but also very practical. The main problem with other locator devices such as GPS jewelry or pillboxes is that patients often remove the devices from them or forget to take the items with them.
With these shoes, however, not only are the patients less likely to cut open the heel and remove the GPS locator but they are also unlikely to go anywhere without their shoes. That’s because even people suffering from the most severe cases of Alzheimer’s or dementia are still usually cognitive enough to put their shoes on before going somewhere.
Dr. Andrew Carle, a professor at George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services (2) commented on the effectiveness of the GPS shoes:
“It’s especially important for people in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s who are at the highest risk,”, and “They might be living in their home, but they’re confused. They go for a walk and they can get lost for days.”
The perfect solution?
Of course, GPS locators aren’t of much use if there isn’t a caregiver nearby to spring into action and go after the lost dementia patient. Still, while these GPS shoes or other locator devices don’t completely eliminate the need for caregivers to supervise their dementia and Alzheimer’s patients, they are of significant help. In the unfortunate event that a dementia relative or patient gets lost, GPS shoes can save the caregiver a lot of time, effort, and stress, not to mention that they can save the patient’s life by helping the caregiver find them as soon as possible
Aren’t there any ethical concerns?
The security vs freedom debate always arises whenever new security and protection technologies are being developed. And while, yes, being able to constantly track someone, especially without their knowledge, can raise a lot of legal and ethical concerns, for people suffering from severe Alzheimer’s or dementia, “complete freedom” isn’t really an option.
When someone has such an advanced and problematic cognitive condition, the easier and more comfortably we can ensure their security, the more freely, safely, and happily they’d be able to live out their life.