New Android GPS App Helps Keep Alzheimer’s Patients Safe

People with Alzheimer’s disease suffer from a condition that endangers their daily lives regardless of how secure their environment is perceived to be. With this disease, the afflicted have a tendency to wander away from their homes or families, become disoriented, and can’t find their way back. In some of the most heartbreaking cases, the victims are never found until it’s too late.

What most people that care for people with such diseases don’t know, is that there is a variety of solutions and methods of protecting their loved ones. Instead of simply hoping for the best and attempting to keep an eye on them whenever possible, the caretakers can turn to GPS technology for a real tracking solution.

An example of one of these GPS tracking solutions could be to equip the elderly Alzheimer’s suffers with a GPS tracker by either placing it in their bag or pockets, allowing for monitoring their location in real time. The drawback to this approach, however, is that the victim might not know or remember where the tracker is and might leave it somewhere or throw it out all together.

A more practical approach has been created by John Brohan, a man who also had a family member that suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. His idea was to create a smartphone app that would record the phone’s GPS location and upload it to the Web so that the caretakers can always find the person in case they go missing. The app, ALZ-Locate, is already available on the Android app market and has been successfully used by over 500 families.

“More has to be done to let people know there are a variety of solutions,” Brohan said.

Even though this is a great tool to help keep Alzheimer’s suffers safe, it still has some drawbacks. One of the major ones is that, because it is built into a smartphone with a limited battery life, it is essential to keep the device charged at all times and for the wandering elderly to always keep their phones with them, which isn’t always the easiest task.

There are also other solutions that worried families can choose. One of these would be to go with a GPS system that is built into something the wanderer would wear, such as a watch or maybe an accessory that they can put onto their shoes. Whatever method of tracking is chosen is not as important as the fact that those with this crippling illness can be tracked. This fact alone can save countless lives that could not have been saved just years ago.

(Via Montreal Gazette) / (Image by Ed Yourdon, licensed under Creative Commons)

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