EmSeeQ Locates Dementia Patients, Fast

By James Zipadelli

A new device has been created to help find seniors with Alzheimer’s disease that have wandered off and become missing. EmSeeQ helps locate someone with Alzheimer’s disease, but it needs to be used properly before the senior’s safety is threatened.

What is EmSeeQ?

“The device is a miniature cell phone encased by a watch-sized protective and waterproof shell, but has no display or buttons,” says Patrice McAree of EmFinders, the company who makes the product. “Once a determination has been made that the person is missing, the caregiver calls 9-1-1 and then calls us. Our trained staff triggers the device remotely to generate a 9-1-1 call, which sends a pre-recorded phone call to the 9-1-1 operator. The 9-1-1 operator can visually see the accurate location of the device on his or her screen in the dispatch center. The dispatcher will send first responders to that location to bring the missing senior home.”

How EmSeeQ Works

When a caregiver or relative realizes that a loved one has gone missing, he or she should call 9-1-1 immediately. The staff will be able to pinpoint the location of the EmSeeQ device, which the senior has on his or her arm, through three satellites that work together to find the exact location. When the three satellite signals overlap, the location of the device is then narrowed down to a very small area. That is the benefit of using three satellites instead of only one or two, overlapping is key to quickly find the location.

Proven Success

Sherry Decker, 9-1-1 Operations Supervisor for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, says that when tests were done with 9-1-1 dispatchers to see if EmSeeQ worked, people were located in eight minutes at one location and 12 minutes at another location. The dispatchers were unaware they were being tested, Decker says.
“We were amazed at how quickly the dispatcher was able to locate them,” Decker says. “We proved how quickly the EmSeeQ bracelet works; we proved that even with limited training, it can be a pivotal tool to find our missing citizen.”
McAree says EmSeeQ has been successful. “We have had 106 rescues to date and we are seeing more on average of 1 per day,” he says.

EmSeeQ Watch-like Device


Why Consider EmSeeQ?

When a senior with Alzheimer’s disease goes missing, it is crucial to locate him or her as quickly as possible. This device is able to shorten the time needed to find the senior by pin pointing the location of the device by three signals that narrow down the location to the nearest cell tower.

Without the device, it makes it difficult to locate the person quickly, especially when weather is a factor, Decker adds.
“We have no place to start looking other than the place they were last seen” Decker says. “Every minute is a mile, so if they have been missing 20 minutes, you need to fan out 20 miles. Every minute counts when a senior with Alzheimer’s disease goes missing.”

Dr. Nahneed Ali, MD, author of Understanding Alzheimer’s: An Introduction to Patients and Caregivers (Rowman & Littlefield) says EmSeeQ is “worth considering” because people can be located using cell towers, which remain intact if GPS tracking is not available in the area.

Speed is Critical When an Alzheimer’s Patient Wanders

EmSeeQ Charging Dock

“Seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s disease tend to wander around more as the disease’s severity worsens,” Ali says. “The EmSeeQ bracelet can therefore be perceived as an investment because it lessens the overall workload required to locate a lost patient in the absence of such a device.”

“Although basic communication between healthy people normally necessitates the simple act of speaking to one another, Alzheimer’s disease patients need more time to ‘digest’ their thoughts and absorb the concepts which are relayed to them by their caregiver,” Ali says. “Wandering observed in Alzheimer’s disease patients can often present concurrently with cognitive decline and a diminished capacity to think properly.”

“That said, caregivers should note that when (someone with) Alzheimer’s is wandering, the situation may be a lot more critical than when someone with normal mental status has lost his or her way,” Ali adds.

EmSeeQ has also been previously used with children who have autism.

James Zipadelli is a freelance journalist based in Washington, DC. You can view more of his work at jameszipadelli.com.

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