GPS to help a wandering mind get home

Getting lost can be scary. It’s especially frightening for a special group of people. We’ll look in. Today, on Engineering Works!

It’s not obvious what engineering has to do with Alzheimer’s Disease. But there is a connection. And it’s a helpful one.

Alzheimer’s is a scary disease. It robs the people who have it of their minds and, eventually, their bodies. It affects more than 5 million people in the United States. And that number is growing as the population gets older.

One of the scariest parts of Alzheimer’s is that people who have it gradually lose their memories. Including where they live. As many as seven in 10 Alzheimer’s patients wander away at some time. Half of them could die if they’re not found within 24 hours.

Now, engineers are working out how to use GPS technology, the cellular telephone system and the World Wide Web to help Alzheimer’s patients stay found. GPS is already used to track down stolen cars. The idea is to put a GPS device into a necklace, bracelet, wristwatch. Even a pair of shoes. Tie it in to the cellular network and it’s good to go.

The Alzheimer’s Association is even working on a Web-based system that relatives and caregivers can use to set up a “safety zone.” When the Alzheimer’s patient gets out of the zone, it sounds an alarm.

If we get lost on the way home, we hope someone helps us find our way. See you next time.

Engineering Works! is made possible by Texas A&M Engineering and produced by KAMU FM in College Station. Learn more about engineering. Visit us on the World Wide Web.

Start the discussion: Alzheimer’s disease is one of the scariest illnesses any of us can face. Technology like this can’t cure the disease, but it can make it a little easier to deal with.

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Source: Engineering

GPS to help a wandering mind get home

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