Without effective equipment, searching for Alzheimer’s disease sufferers who have wandered off can be inefficient. Because time is critical in such situations, every minute lost increases the risk of a tragic outcome.
To help reduce potential injury to adults who wander due to Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia among older adults, a program called Project S.O.F.T. Ware has provided GPS bracelets to a group of people with a history of wandering sue to Alzheimer’s or dementia. S.O.F.T. stands for “Satellite Option Finding Technology,” and the bracelet works like a smartphone.
According to a recent report by Global News, the device sends a message to a secure tracking website that police can log on to. Police can call program participants on their bracelet to ensure that they are OK and know where they are. “The device has a speed sensor to detect unusual behavior (like getting in a car for those who don’t drive) and also sends a notification if the person falls down and hits the bracelet,” the report says.
The technology isn’t perfect. For example, detection is difficult if the battery dies, if the device is submerged in water or if the wearer removes the bracelet. The GPS bracelet also relies on satellite signals and cellular service, neither of which is always accessible in certain locations or areas.
Nevertheless, after field-testing, GPS was found to be the most accurate technology available. It also requires fewer resources compared with radio signal tracking equipment such as RFID, which requires sending officers out searching with antennae and activating ground search and rescue.
With GPS, police can use a smartphone, locate the person and call them – all within 10 minutes.