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High-Tech Shoes Aim To Stop Wandering Alzheimer's Patients

Shoes that make the news often look funny.

Whether they're touting health benefits like those toning shoes that didn't quite pan out or the glove-like footwear being marketed as the anti-shoe.

But some GPS-enabled shoes designed to help keep track of people with Alzheimer's, look exactly like some shoes already popular with the elderly.

And that sense of familiarity is no accident. The companies collaborating to make the shoes, GTX Corp and Aetrex Worldwide, have done their homework, working with senior care specialist Andrew Carle on a design that would be reasonably appealing and practical.

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The system works with devices that the children and caretakers of Alzheimer's patients are familiar with, too. It uses a "geo-fence," allowing the shoe's wearer to move through their house, yard, or even a familiar neighborhood at will.

But once that line has been crossed, you get a computer or email alert and a Google maps update of the shoes' location. Yes, there's even an app for that.

The shoes should be on sale at the beginning of next week, and can be purchased online. The retail price is $299, which may be a little steep for some people. Tnen there's a monthly service fee of $34.99 on top of that.

But wandering is a major problem for dementia patients. And some companies already offer bracelets that serve the same purpose as the new shoes.

As The New York Times points out, a bracelet is easy to take off and lose, and people with Alzheimer's usually don't like unfamiliar objects.

Ambling seniors may not shuck their shoes quite as easily.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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