Regular readers will recall one of our staff members "lost" an aunt over the holidays when the woman, 58, failed to return from a quick trip to a South Bay drug store. She suffered from diabetes and mental illness and communities on both sides of the border mounted a search. Fortunately, Yolanda Lopez was found a week later at a Tijuana bus stop by her family. She is much improved now and her family is taking measures to keep her safe.
Now the city of Chula Vista has announced it is the first in San Diego County to start using new tracking technology called EmSeeQ, a wrist device worn by someone with or dementia. It has a mesh band that can't be easily cut or come lose. It also has a lock that only a caregiver is able to open, according to a local news report.
The technology works off cell phone towers, so it is still active should someone enter an enclosed space that GPS satellites may not be able to penetrate. When a loved one wanders, the caregiver can alert authorities who then use the technology to pinpoint their whereabouts. Best of all, Chula Vista is offering the device free to residents who qualify as part of the pilot program.
Many people already are familiar with the Alzheimer's Associations' Safe Return Program, which last year introduced a GPS tool to also help with tracking. Both are part of a growing trend to help families caring at home for members with dementia. Wandering is a major issue that all caregivers must understand and take proactive steps to prevent.
Here are some practical tips to help reduce wandering.
And here is a news report on the Chula Vista initiative.