Maxwell Smart with Alzheimers?
I was a big fan of Get Smart, the TV show from the 1960’s that aired in reruns through the 1980’s. The main characters were two government secret agents. Actor Don Adams played Agent 86 and his female partner, Agent 99, was played by Barbara Feldon. (Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway starred in a recent movie version.) There were many running gags and gadgets in the show. One of the more memorable was the shoe phone.
I was reminded of the show when I saw a recent announcement that the first shoes with GPS tracking will be sold in the United States. No, they aren’t being made for government agents but rather for seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Wandering is a problem for many Alzheimer’s patients who then get lost when they can’t remember their way home. A GPS tracking system in their shoe can make it easy for family and police to find them.
While bracelets and pendants can do the same thing, seniors often won’t wear one because they don’t recognize it as being theirs so they remove it. By placing the GPS in the heel of the shoe, the senior won’t know it’s there. As the number of Americans afflicted with Alzheimer’s is expected quadruple in the next 20 years the costs to society will be many. Technology will play a big role in solving this growing problem.
Interestingly, the original idea was to create the shoe for long distance runners and children. A college professor who was an advisor to the project, convinced the company which manufactures them that it would be best suited to seniors with memory issues.
Who knows whether anyone had Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone in mind when the idea of the GPS shoe was first discussed? But, it’s a pretty neat idea which just may save lives and reduce a lot of stress for families concerned for their loved ones’ safety.