Edmonton

AHS using ankle bracelet technology to track dementia patients

A Red Deer company whose products help enforce probation orders for convicted criminals is now part of a study to help families of dementia patients.

Company that makes GPS ankle bracelets helping families track loved ones with dementia

Bob Aloisio, vice president of Safetracks GPS, demonstrates one of his company's tracking devices, which is small enough to fit inside a watch. (CBC)

A Red Deer company whose products help enforce probation orders for convicted criminals is now part of a study to help families of dementia patients.

SafeTracks GPS, which manufactures ankle bracelets, created tracking devices small enough to hide in shoes and watches to specifically monitor people with cognitive disorders.

In April 2014, Alberta Health Services gave the devices to about 50 families to study the potential benefits for seniors with dementia.

“They feel like it’s a real relief to the stress and worry that they have about dementia,“ said Alberta Health Services project leader Tracy Ruptash.

The SafeTracks GPS technology allows caregivers to watch the movements of their loved ones in real time on their smartphones or computers. (CBC)
​She said several families have tracked down missing loved-ones using the devices since the study began.

Ruptash said the locating device preserves the independence of people with dementia with the potential to limit the number of missing persons calls to police.

Wandering can be very dangerous for people with dementia, said Ruptash. The devices alert caregivers when their loved one leaves a designated zone, so they can find  them quickly.

“We send an email and a text message almost instantaneously saying that someone has left the safe area and they might be in danger,” said Bob Aloisio, SafeTracks’ vice president.

The person’s movements can also be tracked on the caregiver’s smartphone.

“We can literally drive right up beside the individual and make sure they’re safe and safely get them home,” Aloisio said.

Aloisio said the more the company learns about the needs of dementia patients, the more they will be able to tailor their products.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now