People with Alzheimer’s disease do not experience the world as they used to, making it easy for them to become disoriented or confused. This disorientation often leads to wandering, which is one of the most dangerous behaviors that people with Alzheimer’s may exhibit.
Wandering is a common problem for people with dementia, with three out of every five dementia patients engaging in the behavior. The causes can vary. Some people with dementia simply forget where they’re going and get lost. Others may be confused and anxious. Some look for homes they used to live in or other locations that are nowhere near their current homes. This behavior can result in serious injury or death from accidents or exposure.
The Wandering Prevention program in San Diego is making strides to make wandering less scary for the caregivers and loved ones of those with Alzheimer’s, however, through the use of GPS technology.
Personal GPS tracking units can be a life-saving measure for people prone to wandering. These small units are typically about the size of a pager or small cellphone and can be worn around the neck, on the belt or around the ankle or wrist. They can let caregivers and authorities track the person with dementia in real time, lessening rescue time and reducing the risk of injury or death. Unfortunately, they are also fairly expensive.
A new program in San Diego is attempting to alleviate that expense by buying the devices for people with dementia. Alzheimer’s San Diego, a local organization, is teaming up with San Diego County and Great Call, a local company that makes GPS trackers. A $10,000 grant will purchase 100 GPS trackers and pay for three months of service and some accessories. The trackers also have a call button that can be used to call for help if the wearer becomes lost, injured or otherwise in need of assistance.
The Wandering Prevention pilot program is only able to help a small percentage of the 60,000 people with dementia or Alzheimer’s in San Diego County, but it’s a promising start. While anyone with dementia may qualify, people who have a history of wandering get priority.This program has the potential to save numerous lives by getting technology in the hands of those who need it. Learn about another innovative solution to protect people with Alzheimer’s disease.