Never Lose Grandma Again

L.A.-based company builds the first GPS shoes to help track Alzheimer’s patients.
The new GPS shoe will allow family members to track the whereabouts of their elderly loved ones. (Photo: Courtesy GTX corp)
Oct 28, 2011· 0 MIN READ
Originally from Baltimore, Oliver lives and writes on a quiet, tree-lined street in Brooklyn.

I'm usually pretty skeptical of high-tech products targeting the elderly, but this one seems like a winner.

Los Angeles-based GTX Corp. has just released the first shoes with built-in GPS devices, specifically designed to help track down seniors with dementia or Alzheimer's who have a tendency to wander off.

Although the manufacturer is making just 3,000 pairs in their initial run, they are hoping the $300 shoes will succeed where other GPS devices for the elderly have failed.

"The primary reason is that paranoia is a manifestation of the disease," said Andrew Carle, a professor at George Mason University's College of Health and Human Services and an adviser on the project, to the AFP.

"If you put something on someone with Alzheimer's that they don't recognize, they remove it. If it's a wristwatch and it's not their wristwatch, they will take it off. So you have to hide it."

As someone who has lost a grandparent to Alzheimer's, this rings true. As the disease progesses, even old, familiar items can start to feel foreign and be rejected.

But shoes? They're slipped on without complaint.

Today there are over 5 million people suffering from Alzheimer's in the United States, and that number is expected to triple in the next few decades. Which means we'll probably be seeing a lot more of these shoes in the future.