Locating Alzheimer’s affected people when wandering

According to Alzheimer Disease International (ADI), 46 million people live today with dementia worldwide. This number is projected to increase to more than 131 million by 2050, as populations age. Dementia also has a huge economic impact. The total estimated worldwide cost of dementia is 744bn, and it will become a trillion-euro disease by 2018[1]. Alzheimer’s disease is a common cause of dementia, causing as many as 50 to 70% of all dementia cases. It is a form of dementia that specifically affects parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language. Wandering is among the most problematic, frequent, and dangerous behaviors of people with dementia. It includes a variety of behaviours, which are often originated from diverse factors. A lot of research has revealed that the frequent wanderers are more likely to experience adverse events such as falling, elopement, getting lost, and emotional distress. Experts estimate that 60% of people with Alzheimer’s disease will wander at some point during the progression of the brain disorder. If not found within 24 hours, up to half of individuals who wander will suffer serious injury or death[2]. With more that 8 million people with the dementia in Europe[3], and 60% wandering away at least once, there is potentially more than 5 million people who would be walking away. Furthermore, wandering is also the main reason of early institutionalization.

The existing need to improve the accuracy and the reliability of locating persons comes from nursing homes as well as from professional and family caregivers.

This is a serious issue and a growing concern in Europe and worldwide. People with Alzheimer’s disease should have the opportunity to move about as freely and independently as possible, however, at some point, a balance will need to be achieved between independence and safety.

Several tracking and locating devices based on GPS (Global Positioning System) + cellular   technologies exist today, but they are unable to provide sustainable and affordable solutions to fix the deadly wandering problem. The main reason is that, by design, the energy consumption of these devices is much too high. Wearers are required to frequent/daily reloading which is quite challenging for their memory. In addition, most devices are hardly concealed (wrist and ankle bracelets like prisoner’s wristband, necklaces or watches) which contribute to stigmatize wearers creating rejections and non-acceptance.

Hear & Know is developing a new breakthrough solution called “Pathfinder” to provide a very affordable and robust miniaturized solution, embedded into everyday garments and shoes. By design, the device will be very frugal on power consumption, and will operate seamlessly both indoor and outdoor.

[1] World Alzheimer Report 2016.pdf

[2] http://www.alz.org/norcal/in_my_community_18411.asp

[3] http://www.alzheimer-europe.org/Policy-in-Practice2/Country-comparisons/2013-The-prevalence-of-dementia-in-Europe