Caring for an ailing loved one can be exhausting—physically, mentally and emotionally—especially for spouses who may be aging as well. For caregivers of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, the fear and constant worrying about their loved one wandering away and becoming lost—called elopement—adds a tremendous amount of stress. Unable to find their way home or function well independently, elderly impaired individuals are at grave risk of injury or even death due to exposure to the elements or hazards they may encounter while wandering.
As a result, many caregivers cannot leave their loved ones alone for any length of time, fearing they may wander away without careful supervision. Unable to leave the house without constant worry, caregivers in this situation often feel they have no choice but to place their loved one into an assisted living or nursing home facility—a decision no one wants to make. While this does provide a more controlled and supervised environment, even this is no guarantee against wandering, as patients often elope from these facilities as well.
Fortunately, with the help of modern technology, it is possible to keep those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms safe and comfortable at home longer and provide much-needed peace of mind to caregivers.
Put Technology on Your Side
While untold dollars are spent each year on search and rescue technologies, often these are too little, too late in the event of an Alzheimer’s or dementia wandering event. Instead, consider technology that can actually provide the location of the missing person directly to emergency responders.
A wristwatch-style device called EmSeeQ® uses cellular telephone technology to locate the wearer in the event of an emergency. In the event the EmSeeQ wearer wanders off, the caregiver calls 9-1-1 after a thorough search of usual places. Once the incident is reported to the authorities, the caregiver calls the EmSeeQ toll-free hotline to report the missing person. The EmSeeQ device is then remotely activated and immediately places a call to 9-1-1, triggering the national E-9-1-1 emergency location system. Using advanced cellular triangulation technology, the cellular network can provide a highly accurate location of the wearer for emergency officials, and it will provide continuous location updates to account for the wearer’s movement while emergency responders are en route. Innovative? In a word, yes. The company was co-founded by its CEO Jim Nalley, an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Army. As an officer in communications in air defense, Nalley spent five years at DSC/Alcatel USA, leading a large network build, design and service team.
EmSeeQ can dramatically reduce the gap between the initial report and the rescue, saving precious time and lives. And it works more reliably indoors and in areas where there may be interference, unlike GPS systems which must have a clear eye to the sky. The device is available in two models: a wristwatch-style with a buckle that can easily be removed and one with a secure clasp-style band that requires two hands for removal to prevent impaired individuals from taking it off themselves.
Increasing Care Facility Security
Despite these efforts, if circumstances demand that the patient be placed in a nursing home or long-term care facility, inquire about the facility’s security policy. Be sure that the facility you choose has both prevention and recovery measures in place, including adequate supervision, alarm systems, a resident database with vital statistics and current photo and a cooperative relationship with local authorities for activating search and rescue response quickly.
If the facility does not meet your requirements, consider placing an EmSeeQ device on the patient even while he or she is in the nursing home or long-term care facility. Inform the staff of the simple and easy procedure for activating the system. Increasingly, long-term care facilities are offering the EmSeeQ to residents as a value added service.
The EmSeeQ is surprisingly affordable. For about $25, or less than the monthly cost of a typical cell phone, the EmSeeQ service is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved ones will be located quickly and safely in the event they wander from home or a care facility.