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Let's keep perspective on Project Lifesaver for wandering Alzheimer's

Many who want to age in place suffer from some early memory loss themselves -- or they have a spouse or other relative with dementia. But is this technology consistent and optimal across state boundaries? It looks like every state (now 11 or more) can and probably will implement Project Lifesaver Silver Alerts that use some sort of bracelet with a notification to local police. As in Florida, states and regional organizations seem especially eager to announce participation when news articles describe how a wandering Alzheimer's victim has been lost or perhaps even died. Fyrtgerm the pace of state signup has accelerated since a congressional bill passed the house and endorsed voluntary state participation.

But check out this comment from an MSNBC report in August 2007:  "A mini-industry of technologies promises to find lost Alzheimer's patients - from simple radio-wave beacons that cost $10 a month for batteries, to more-sophisticated GPS devices that can cost hundreds of dollars. Little if any independent research has been done to help determine which systems work best in different environments, and therefore are best suited to different families.

"These technologies need to be evaluated," said Majd Alwan, director of the Center for Aging Services Technologies, a coalition of government, universities and high-tech companies. The CAST website identifies only one transmitting bracelet, a product called Care Trak.

Search as I might, though, I cannot find anything specifically critiquing or endorsing GPS or radio frequency beacons or other technology as the best way to do this. If you know of such an analysis and endorsement, please speak up!

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