HealthCheck

GPS-like watch helps track patients with Alzheimer's

Friday, April 08, 2011

Wandering is common among Alzheimer's patients. It's common, too, in autistic children. Almost every week, we air news reports of someone with these medical problems who has gone missing. Now a new GPS-like watch helped Pearland police reunite a family.

When 72-year-old James Seals went missing in California last December, he was gone for nine hours.

"The entire family was out searching for him," said Pat Seals, James' wife. "Walked 21 miles down the Pacific Coast Highway from Long Beach, California, to Hermosa Beach."

They were grateful when a police officer spotted him and he was safe. But Pat immediately bought a GPS-like watch called the EmSeeQ to protect her husband, who has Alzheimer's.

It's already paid off -- twice. He was found quickly when he went missing two more times, including this week when in Pearland.

The watch has a locator that police can activate to find the location of a person with a medical problem like Alzheimer's or autism.

"These products I think are terrific. These give caregivers and patients an extra tool to help with problems that come with Alzheimer's like wandering," said Dr. Mark Kunik with the DeBakey VA Medical Center.

Kunik also suggests the medic alert bracelet. That helped when James got lost the first time. He also suggests monitors that beep when a door is opened, cover door knobs and ask neighbors to call if they notice him outside alone.

"Some of the things that could cause wandering are boredom, lack of exercise, lack of meaningful activities, so I think it's important to try to incorporate those things into a person's life to see whether that decreases the wandering," he said.

He suggests creating outdoor areas where they can walk safely. Take walks with them. And Pat says she will keep James' EmSeeQ device locked on his wrist every day.

"It's a huge relief because I know that if he were to wander off I could find him within minutes," Pat said.

The device also helps locate children with autism. The EmSeeQ costs about $225 and has a monthly monitoring fee.

Click here to see the Alzheimer's Association's tips to prepare and prevent wandering.

(Copyright ©2014 KTRK-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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