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Tracking Alzheimer’s Patients

By: Alex Zequeira
By: Alex Zequeira

It is a debilitating disease that causes memory loss. Alzheimer's disease takes a toll not only on those it affects but their loved ones as well.

Those suffering from Alzheimer’s tend to wander away from time to time and not be able to find their way back home.

Cynthia Lockhart is one of those people affected by a family member suffering from the disease. She loves her father very much, but she also worries about him all the time. Her father has Alzheimer’s and suffers from memory loss.

Cynthia said, "Taking away his independence, the things that he has lost... Having to take driving away from him because he may be at risk on the highway for someone else... that was very difficult."

The effects of Alzheimer’s really struck home for Cynthia several years ago, when her father disappeared from home for about 10 hours.

"When he walked out of the house at 2:30 in the morning, it was just something that we thought would have never occurred to us, because we are very watchful and we're always on guard trying to make sure that he is always where he is supposed to be or that someone is watching him," said Lockhart.

Lockhart’s father was found and brought home safely. Immediately after the incident she heard about a new traffic device offered by the Houston county sheriff's department, and wasted no time getting one for him.

The bracelets have a transmitter built inside that works 24 hours a day, and sends signals to a receiver monitored by the Houston county sheriff's office. When an Alzheimer’s patient disappears, officials start their search at the place where he or she was last seen, and use their equipment to figure out where they went.

John Hickey, a data specialist with the Houston County Sheriff’s Office said, "It puts out that beep and depending on how loud it is... as you move the antenna you get a direction and you can determine the direction."

The bracelet now helps Cynthia Lockhart rest comfortably knowing that her father is monitored all day every day.

The tracking bracelets are provided by the Dothan pilots club, and they are free. The club supplies all the battery's and equipment necessary for them to work. Officials also do monthly checkups on the bracelets for anyone who has them.

For more information about the tracking bracelets, you can contact the Houston County sheriff's office at (334) 677-4882.


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