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A New Service For Tracking A Person With Alzheimer’s

By Julie Davis

As a source of information and support, the Alzheimer’s Association provides invaluable services to people with AD and caregivers who are faced with significant challenges on a daily basis and is known for its commitment to educating families about keeping people with Alzheimer's disease and dementia safe, active and independent for as long as possible. One of the most significant stresses of caregiving for a person with Alzheimer’s comes from dealing with wandering—when lost loved ones leave their home and may not be able to find their way back. To address this issue, the Alzheimer's Association recently introduced Comfort Zone, a sophisticated locator mapping service for tracking a person with Alzheimer’s, one that can be both customized and modified as their needs change.

Comfort Zone is a web application that includes a location-based mapping service, or LBS. LBS is the term for a wide range of services that provide location information—this is the system that provides turn-by-turn GPS driving directions in your car and tracks a package for you online.

The Comfort Zone system is designed specifically with Alzheimer's in mind. It combines the latest technology with the flexibility that allows you to change devices and plans as a person's disease progresses and safety needs change. For example, if the person with Alzheimer's is still driving, a car-mounted tracking device may be appropriate; later on, a wrist-worn device may be a better choice.

Here’s how Comfort Zone works for tracking a person with Alzheimer’s. A person with Alzheimer's wears or carries a locator device, like such a pager or a device worn like a wristwatch, or mounts one in his or her car. As the person moves or drives, the device receives signals from satellites or cell towers and can then approximate the person's location by measuring the distance between the device and the cell towers or satellite signals. The device communicates with the Comfort Zone web application, allowing family members to access information about their loved one's location by using the Internet or calling the monitoring center. The system allows family members to determine the level of monitoring needed, such as verifying location from a computer, receiving alerts when the person has traveled in or out of a zone or just emergency assistance if there is a wandering incident.

Comfort Zone provides an impressive array of features and services to suit virtually any situation, both the condition of the person with Alzheimer’s and the circumstances of the caregivers, including how close or far away they live. Some of the advantages of Comfort Zone are that it’s:

Easy to use—just turning on your computer, get a text message or call the monitoring center. There is no installation of software. You can manage location and alerts via a secure, password-protected website anywhere at anytime.
Flexible—Comfort Zone can be paired with a variety of devices and plans. You can change any of these elements and still keep your settings and alerts. You will never have to learn a new password or web application.

Connected to a 24/7 call center. This is available to help you with location management services if you are unable to access the Internet.

Coordinated with an emergency health records system—all Comfort Zone monthly plans come with the MedicAlert® + Alzheimer's Association's Safe Return® program, which provides 24-hour emergency response service for wandering and medical emergencies.

Geared to long-distance access—Comfort Zone allows multiple family members, no matter where they live in the country, to check on a person with Alzheimer's. You can even monitor a person's location and manage your alerts while you're away on vacation.

A comprehensive service—you have access to all the resources of the Alzheimer's Association, including a free 24/7 Helpline that provides confidential counseling, referrals, safety and disease education and local support.

Comfort Zone plans start at $42.99 per month, plus a $45 activation fee. A Comfort Zone plan is designed specifically to each device and the web application features you decide on. Available features include:

  • Scheduled day and night zones
  • Additional trip zone, to set up another zone when vacationing or visiting another location.
  • Zone exit and enter alerts
  • “Find Me” locate to see a person's location on a map.
  • “Follow Me” constant tracking to follow a person's movements on a map for a 60-minute session.
  • Alerts via text, e-mail
  • Location history
  • Privacy management
  • Emergency medical health record by MedicAlert Foundation
  • 24/7 emergency response
  • 24/7 location assistance
  • 24/7 care consultation
  • Application support
  • MedicAlert® + Alzheimer's Association Safe Return® bracelet
  • Alzheimer's Association resources

For more information about Comfort Zone and about choosing the right locator system for your loved one’s needs, visit www.alz.org/comfortzone/index.asp.