Police abandon plan to use GPS on dementia patients
Published Monday, November 8, 2010 12:32PM EST
MONTREAL - Montreal police are holding off on a plan to provide Global Positioning System bracelets to people with dementia, saying financial reasons will not let the project get off the ground.
The program would have tracked lost patients and helped avoid future tragedies.
Rob McCollum, who knows firsthand how scary dementia can be, is disappointed with the decision.
His wife has Alzheimer's disease and has walked away from home more than once. McCollum says a GPS tracking system would act as an added safety cushion.
"If she had something that told people where she was or that we could locate her, it would have been useful," said McCollum.
Police no longer working with GPS tracking company
The force's new chief Marc Parent liked the idea, but according to police spokesperson Ian Lafreniere the company that would have overseen the project is no longer involved with Montreal police.
"It was decided that it would be over with the company that we've been involved with, so this is really a business decision," said Lafreniere.
The idea was launched last winter when two people with dementia wandered away from home and died from exposure.
Their deaths highlighted a growing problem affecting half a million Canadians.
Only takes seconds to disappear
Montreal's Alzheimer's group wants people to know that it only takes seconds for someone to walk away undetected.
"We know from experience, unfortunately, particularly in the winter how short a time it takes until someone succumbs to the conditions and if anything can give a level of security, a level of safety to people suffering from Alzheimer's disease, we're for it," said Linda Israel.
Jens Pruessner is the director for McGill's Centre for Studies in Aging, and he says as baby boomers grow older, the country will face a pandemic.
"I think you cannot replace individual care with such a technology but it can actually help to prevent accidents," said Pruessner.
The United States and the UK already have GPS tracking of dementia patients in action.