The problem of wandering is getting more attention as autism diagnoses increase and the number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia continues to grow, said experts.
Lori McIlwain, executive director of the National Autism Association, is trying to get insurance companies to cover personal tracking devices. Children with autism who wander, she said, are drawn to water for the rhythmic sound or the enveloping feeling of being in the water. Drowning is a leading cause of death in people with autism.
“Wandering is a medical issue, not a mental issue,” she said.
GPS device geo-fencing applications let caregivers set a perimeter that a potential wanderer within which a person can freely move about. Once the person leaves that perimeter, a text message alerts the caregiver and maps their movements to track their bearing, speed and possible historic pathway
Many autism and Alzheimer’s victims are being cared for by a spouse, however studies have shown that “fear of wandering” is the among the largest stress factors for caregivers during these stages of the disease. It’s an issue for the community because they would like the resident to remain in the setting where they are happiest, have friends, and can otherwise function, but would like to have options for addressing the issue of wandering.
GTX Corp invented and holds the patent on GPS Shoes. Aetrex Worldwide manufactures and distributes the shoes. They retail the shoes for $299, with a $35-40/month monitoring fee. http://www.navistargpsshoe.com Additional information about the shoes, including the tracking technology, shoe styles/colors and sizes can also be found on the site.