The Alzheimer’s Association Comfort Zone™, powered by Omnilink, is the first comprehensive location management system designed specifically for Alzheimer’s, giving people with the disease more freedom and independence in their community while providing their family some peace of mind. Comfort Zone is a Web-based application that works with various location devices throughout the progression of the disease to proactively communicate the location of the person with Alzheimer’s within two to 30 minutes, based on the family’s selected plan. Comfort Zone also offers families assistance with 24/7 monitoring center services and access to emergency health records from the MedicAlert Foundation.
As Americans continue to live longer, prevalence of Alzheimer’s is expected to skyrocket from the current 5.3 million Americans to as many as 16 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association 2009 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts & Figures report. In addition to its slow, fatal progression, Alzheimer’s poses immediate safety concerns for people living with the disease and enormous challenges and stress for their 10 million family caregivers.
“As the Alzheimer’s epidemic gains momentum, the Alzheimer’s Association is committed to educating families about how to keep people with Alzheimer’s successfully in the community for as long as possible,” said Beth Kallmyer, MSW, director of Family and Information Services at the Alzheimer’s Association. “Comfort Zone is an interactive safety service that allows people with the disease to be more active and caregivers to be more confident whether they are in the same house, down the street, at work or across the country.”
Comfort Zone combines the latest technology with flexibility, allowing families to change devices and plans as a person’s disease progresses and monitoring needs change. Using GPS and cellular technologies with online mapping, Comfort Zone allows the entire family to proactively determine the location of the person with Alzheimer’s. Families log into a secure, password-protected Web site similar to logging into most email systems and proactively establish safety zones. If the person with Alzheimer’s travels beyond the pre-set zones, they receive alerts via text or email within 15 or 30 minutes, depending on the device and service package purchased. These zones and alerts can be adjusted to meet the family’s needs as the disease progresses. Additionally, families can determine location within two minutes by initiating a “Find Me” or a longer “Follow Me” session, which provides updates every two minutes for one hour.
“Omnilink is pleased to partner with the Alzheimer’s Association and power the Comfort Zone application,” said Wain Kellum, CEO of Omnilink. “This is a great opportunity to use our advanced location-based services platform to give families flexible care options and choices throughout the progression of the disease.”
Bill Bailey, an Alzheimer’s Association Early-Stage Advisor living with the disease, and his wife Kitty Kennedy tested Comfort Zone from their Richmond, Va., home. Bailey, an avid exerciser, found he was able to ride his bike again and even drove 600 miles to camp with his brother-in-law for the first time since diagnosis. “I felt more confident that I would not get lost, because my wife could keep up with me,” said Bailey, Alzheimer’s Association Early-Stage Advisor. Kennedy adds, “As a caregiver, it gives me peace of mind to know that Bill is able to move about freely yet safely even if I’m at work, running errands or taking a break. With Comfort Zone in our back pocket, we bought ourselves more time and independence.”
“In the past, location management services and devices were bulky, complicated and prohibitively expensive. Advances in technology continue to make these solutions more discrete, simple and affordable offering families a choice,” said Kallmyer. “Comfort Zone is as easy as turning on a computer, receiving a text message or calling the monitoring center.”
The price of the Comfort Zone service packages varies, beginning at $42.99 a month with a $45.00 activation fee, similar to most cell phone services. For more information or to purchase Comfort Zone, visit the Alzheimer’s Association at http://www.alz.org/comfortzone or call 1-877-ALZ-4850 (1-877-259-4850).