Tragedy struck an Ohio nursing home earlier this week, when a resident who had been diagnosed with dementia wandered outside sometime overnight and died of exposure. Martha Jensdrix was found in the parking lot at 7:30 the next morning, when it was too late to help her. Family members say that the staff of the nursing home was aware of her condition when she moved in, and many people are wondering how no one noticed that she was gone. While an internal investigation is underway at the nursing home, technology is stepping up to try to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again in other nursing homes.
Two separate companies have developed a way to track a person’s movements via their shoes, an ability that could save the lives of countless Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, as well as giving their caregivers peace of mind.
The Aetrex shoe has a GPS device embedded right in the heel of the shoe, providing real-time tracking that can be linked via satellite to any computer or smartphone. The shoes have a USB charger, and can be connected to a computer to upload the data. The shoes cost $299 initially, with a $30 monthly charge for the satellite tracking.
SoleTrackr is another company with a similar product: a small GPS device built into a removable insole. The SoleTrackr is powered through a cellular network for increased range, and is designed for people who don’t normally carry a cell phone, such as young children and the elderly.
Both the Aetrex shoe and the SoleTrackr have an option for the caretaker to set up an acceptable area for the wearer to be in at a certain time, so that the device will notify the caregiver if the shoes exit that area. For example, if a resident wanders outside their assisted living facility, the staff can be immediately notified. The Aetrex shoes also notify caregivers of prolonged periods of rest and changes in battery life.
As the technology improves, it could really revolutionize senior citizen housing options. Nursing homes would be able to spend less time chasing down patients within the facilities, making it easier to find them quickly and administer assistance in case of emergency. While the cost of assisted living facilities may rise slightly to cover the costs of the shoes, many caregivers and nursing homes agree that it would be worth it for the added security and peace of mind. It may be too late for Martha Jendrix, technology may be the best way to prevent such a tragedy from happening again. Refernce materials.
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