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Bay Area Expert Weighs In On GPS Shoes For Alzheimer's Patients

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Sixty percent of Alzheimer's patients will wander away from home at some point over the course of the disease. Finding them quickly is critical as the risk of death or injury goes up considerably after 24 hours.

But now there's a new device among a growing number of products designed to keep track of our wandering loved ones.

Sometimes people go looking for family members that have gotten lost going to the grocery store. In other cases the person with Alzheimer's forgets they are retired and they try to go to work. But when they leave the house, they become disoriented.

KCBS' Rebecca Corral Reports:

Ruth Gay, director of public policy and advocacy with the Alzheimer's Association in Northern California and Nevada said wandering can have terrible consequences.

"Wandering in fact is a very big safety issue. We do know that if people aren't found within 24 hours, the risk of death goes up substantially. They don't always know how to protect themselves from the elements or find a safe location," she said.

GTX Corporation and Aetrex Worldwide are two companies that are now collaborating to release a shoe on Monday, embedded with GPS to track its wearer's whereabouts. It sort of resembles the walking shoes often worn by the elderly.

"For years we've looked for things like this that would help is find somebody quickly when they get lost," Gay said.

The shoes join a growing list of GPS embedded products including; wristwatches, bracelets, and other products that help wandering people with dementia.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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