About 10,000 people suffer from Alzheimer's Disease or dementia in Kern County. Many are being cared for by family members in the home. Wandering can be a very big problem and a fear that keeps some caregivers awake at night.
Almost a year ago an elderly Bakersfield woman, suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, wandered away from her daughter's home, in the middle of the night. Even with family, police and community members helping search, she wasn't found for more than 24 hours.
"I woke up and she wasn't in her bed. "I checked everywhere. The backyard, behind the cars, on the side of the house."
Remembering that awful night last December, still brings tears to Edith Cazares' eyes. She shared a room with her grandma, Faustina Barron, who has Alzheimer's Disease. But even she didn't hear Barron get up before 2 a.m. and wander out of her bedroom, and out of the house. "I immediately left. I jumped the fence, I wasn't even wearing shoes I just took off. My mom took off in the car and my brother went in his truck."
"Wandering is very dangerous. Especially because they have lost their sense of night and day, and most wandering is done at night, which we know is very unsafe," says Kate Eucee, Alzheimer's Association of Kern County. Cazares' entire family, along with police scoured the neighborhood and community for Barron.
17 News aired her picture, in hopes someone had spotted her. A day and a half later, a construction worker found Barron, disoriented and dehydrated, lying in a ditch, by Highway 99. But if Barron had been wearing these Aetrex GPS shoes, though, the situation may have played out differently.
"This is technology that allows caregivers to set a geozone or geo fence. And if your loved one breaks that perimeter, whether it's your home or a 1 block or 5 block perimeter, they get an email notification right away," says Andrew Green Aetrex World Wide Inc. Executive Director of sales.
To test the shoes out, we set our perimeter, to just down the street from the 17 News studios, at 19th Street. Once a caregiver realizes their loved one is missing, they can go online, track the person's path and pinpoint their location.
"It sets "bread crumbs," which allows you to view the path that the Alzheimer's person has taken , so you can follow that path, right to where they are," adds Green.
"Wow, those would be great, as long as they wear them. If they take them off which I will say, taking their shoes off is not common. It's not as common as other things like a coat or jewelry or something like that." And when it comes to taking care of your someone you love, even small steps can make a big difference.
The Aetrex shoes cost $300, along with the $35 monthly subscription fee for the tracking website. http://www.navistargpsshoe.com/