There is something happening in this country that will drain tax dollars, worry families and even cost lives. As our population ages, the number of people living with dementia is soaring.
“They sleep with one eye open. They're afraid to go to the bathroom,” said Andrew Carle, a professor at George Mason University and former health care executive and expert on technology and the elderly.
It's a fear experienced by anybody who has cared for a loved one with Alzheimer's.
But new technology could change things for them.
“This is peace of mind for them,” Carle said.
He calls it “Nana technology.”
Carle is an advisor to a California company called GTX. They make a device called the GPS SmartSole.
“It's just like a Dr. Scholl's or anything else,” he said.
It's a shoe insert with GPS.
“We've put it basically in this area around the arch where there's the least amount of weight per square inch, so it's more durable,” said Carle.
Using cell service, you can track somebody on your computer or phone.
GPS SmartSole allows you to create something called a geozone. It can be the size of a yard, two blocks or two miles. Whatever the geozone is, the moment the person steps beyond it, the caregiver is notified.
“They day they get confused, the day they make the wrong turn, the day they can't find their way back home, that's when everybody in the system will receive these text messages and alerts to let you know where they are and go find them,” said Carle.
We laced up and went for a walk. When we got too far from his office, it knew.
GPS SmartSole allows people to maintain some independence.
“In the early stages of the disease, a lot of these folks are still going to church, still seeing their friends, riding a bike,” said Carle.
The company's CEO first got the idea from the high-profile kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart. But he learned the elderly were a greater need.
“We've got five million people in this country afflicted with Alzheimer's and related dementia,” Carle said. “Short of a cure, which is not imminent, that number is going to quadruple to 20 million people.”
GPS SmartSole costs $249 and should be on the market by the end of summer.