Wandering is a huge issue for many caregivers of people with Alzheimer's disease. The biggest problem may be that one never knows when the urge to wander will hit the person with the disease. Even if the care receiver has never wandered before, when will the first time be?
One thing about dementia is that it does not make the person with the disease less "intelligent." They just think differently. Often, when there is enough will behind a desire, people can be quite crafty. Caregivers who have disabled cars - so they thought - to keep someone from driving, only to find the person with Alzheimer's figured out the trick and "fixed" the car, will attest to this fact.
We've had a number of people on OurAlzheimer's ask about systems that can track a person with the disease, in case they do wander. There are many. Some offer tags worn in clothing. Some offer devices to put in cars or carried in a pocket or purse. These devices are tracked by a signal that alerts either a center or the caregiver as to the location of the device, and hopefully the location of the lost loved one.
The Alzheimer's Association just launched their own system, called Comfort Zone. They offer a choice of devices which you can purchase from a third party, through the Alzheimer's Association site. The devices run from $199 to $299. There is a setup fee and a monthly charge beginning at $42.99 a month. You can follow the device by computer, receive a text message or call the center, and multiple family members can access the information. The Web site for information is www.alz.org/comfortzone.
EmFinders is a company that uses cellular technology in the form of a "watch-like wearable device and service that is integrated nationally with 9-1-1 systems." The basic device runs around $185, with a service charge of $25 a month or $275 a year. The Web site is www.emfinders.com.
The LoJack SafetyNet system works with Project Lifesaver International to find people at risk who've gone missing. What they refer to as a Person Locator Unit (PLU) is strapped to an ankle or a wrist. The person can then be tracked by local law enforcement trained in the use of the technology. The site has detailed information on agencies that use this program. There is a $99 initial enrollment fee and a recurring $30 monthly charge. Again, this works with your local law enforcement only if they are part of the project. The Web site will help you find out if your loved one lives in a participating area and what other charges may apply.
There are other systems available. Some have wider ranges of service than others. Just type "Alzheimer's" and "wandering" into your browser and you should be able to do some investigating of your own.
I know many people who have come up with their own systems to foil locks in their home. Several companies have developed alarms that let a caregiver know if the person crosses certain doorways. Some are quite expensive, others less so. Many companies that specialize in other high tech areas are finding that Alzheimer's can be big business. This can be beneficial if it means that new devices to keep our loved ones safe are coming on the market at reasonably competitive prices. Choice can be a very good thing.
Published On: November 01, 2009