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How GPS Tracking Keeps Alzheimer’s Patients Safe

Caitlin Burm
By Caitlin BurmApril 3, 2018

Last Updated: April 3, 2018

Alzheimer’s is a disorienting disease that causes wandering in patients who have difficulty remembering their name and even their home. Many caregivers turn to GPS tracking technology to prevent these emergencies.

Learn more about the ways you can use location tracking to prevent accidents amongst loved ones.

Alzheimer’s and GPS Tracking Technology

There are many methods and services you can use to help keep your loved ones with dementia safe, but GPS tracking technology is becoming an increasing option for caregivers.

A non-profit organization focused on preventing emergencies in people with Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders, Project Lifesaver has advised and supported caregivers and families for more than 15 years with GPS tracking. Each year, the organization provides the technology and training to help keep senior loved ones safe. Its practice of working with trained public safety agencies like fire and rescue teams, first responders and law enforcement, allow them, when necessary, to quickly locate wandering individuals.

A Place for Mom recently spoke to Gene Saunders, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Project Lifesaver, about how the organization helps families with dementia.

Reducing Alzheimer’s Wandering With GPS Tracking

Project Lifesaver’s mission is to “bring loved ones home,” and they do this through tracking technology that can locate an individual and then notify a caregiver if that individual is safe, or if they have left their “safe zone.”

Saunders explains, “Recently, Project Lifesaver has added new technology to our toolbox that can not only locate an individual if they go missing but can also provide a radio frequency safe zone around them that notifies the caregiver in the event an “at risk” individual breaches this established safe zone.”

Individuals can wear the small PAL (Protect and Locate) tracker – which has an individualized signal – around their wrist, as it functions as a sports watch. Then, if a loved one wanders, a caregiver can notify their local Project Lifesaver agency, which will send a trained emergency team to respond to the area. Most recovery times average around 30 minutes.

What to Do When Your Loved One Wanders

Project Lifesaver encourages caregivers and families of Alzheimer’s patients to use GPS tracking, but to first start with a plan to help keep loved ones safe. Saunders says,

“The stress experienced by caregivers and families when a person with dementia wanders and becomes lost is significant. Have a plan in place beforehand, so you know what to do in case of an emergency.”

 If your loved one is beginning to exhibit wandering behaviors, the organization recommends to:

  1. Ask family, friends and neighbors to call if they see your loved one alone.
  2. Create a crisis plan.
  3. Ensure the home is safe and secure.
  4. Keep a list of people to call on for help and have telephone numbers easily accessible.
  5. Keep a recent photo and updated medical information on hand for authorities.

In the event of a crisis, these steps and tracking technology will allow the organization to quickly locate your loved one.

Ways to Prevent Alzheimer’s Wandering

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, anyone suffering from memory problems is at risk for wandering, even those in the early stages of dementia.

Six in ten people with dementia will wander, and as the disease progresses, a person can become disoriented for longer periods of time.

This can be dangerous to both Alzheimer’s patients and others, but fortunately, you can prevent wandering by creating a plan and using services like tracking technology to help.

Has your family used GPS tracking technology to keep a loved one safe? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

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Caitlin Burm
Caitlin Burm
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