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Tracking Technology Offers Help for People with Memory Loss - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Tracking Technology Offers Help for People with Memory Loss

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There is new technology out to find and help people with memory loss who wander. The devices are part of a growing effort to help caregivers and their loved ones.

The holidays bring many family members together literally. Living in tight quarters may allow us to notice significant memory changes in elderly parents or grandparents. Now there are new devices that help people with some memory loss to remain independent and also safe.

Mary Pat Hansen was away from home one February when she got a dreaded phone call that her mother was missing.

“I was sick we immediately got in a car and drove back and we didn't know what to do,” she stated.

Up until that time her mother had been a capable woman. She raised nine children alone but that cold February night police found her after over two hours in the cold.  Hansen’s mother had Alzheimer’s, rescue workers said she was lucky to emerge alive.

Mark Eggman, a Virginia state search and rescue coordinator, says this dangerous situation is becoming all too common. “Alzheimer’s and dementia is a growing demographic.  As the baby boomer ages it’s just become a lot more prevalent,” he said.

But there is new tracking technology that allows rescue workers to find people fast. One is called Project Lifesaver.

“Get that tracking bracelet onto them and that makes it a lot easier. That is typically a 20 minute search when they go missing, so that is probably the greatest thing out there when people suffer from dementia,” Eggman stated.

Another technology, MedicAlert + Safe Return, just out this summer and recommended by the Alzheimer’s Association, allows caregivers to find people who wander by using a small GPS tracking device. A person with the device can also press a button and alert a 24-7 call center if they need help.

And just out this December and only available online is the EverThere device from AT&T.

“EverThere device detects whether someone has fallen and it has 24-7 emergency services if you fall and it detects that call and calls those emergency services for you,” Charlottesville AT&T store manager Aaron Bailey said.

Hansen says she wishes one of these devices had been available when her mother wandered a few years ago. “For caregivers it's got to be a huge relief knowing that the minute you turn your back they are not going to disappear and if they disappear you can find them,” she stated.

Law enforcement says that these tracking devices are becoming popular with seniors who live alone and just don't want to be stranded.
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