Older adults with dementia can sometimes feel lost or disoriented, feelings that may cause them to leave their room or home in search of something familiar. This is called wandering, a common but potentially dangerous symptom of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia in seniors. If your loved one wanders, a GPS tracker for dementia can help you find them quickly — and prevent emergencies and dangerous situations.
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GPS tracking has helped people find their way for decades. As with apps for driving directions you use on your smartphone, GPS technology in senior-tracking devices coordinates with satellites to figure out your loved one’s precise location on the ground.
Today, GPS trackers come in many forms and can be so small that people wear them throughout the day with ease. These trackers allow caregivers to know exactly where an elderly loved one is and can help keep them safe.
Tracking devices are called by many names. Whether called a GPS tracker for dementia, dementia tracker, dementia tracker watch, or a dementia tracking device, they all approximately meet the same need: providing another layer of safety for dementia patients.
You can buy tracking devices in many forms, e.g., they can be wearable or attachable accessories. Also, while tracking typically involves GPS, some items rely on internet, cellular, or radio technology. When researching GPS trackers for dementia, consider the following:
Now that you know how to approach your search, here are some useful and discreet tracking devices for dementia patients to keep on your radar, ranked from most expensive to least:
There are many wearable options for dementia trackers. GPS-tracking devices can be worn inside a shoe, as a watch, on a belt, as a bracelet, on a keychain, and more.
The 4G GPS SmartSole is a rechargeable tracking device sealed in a water-resistant shoe insert that can be trimmed to shoe size. By setting up an account on GTX’s website, families can have access to the following features:
The SmartSole works wherever T-Mobile 2G coverage is available — although you don’t need to be a T-Mobile customer to use the device. The SmartSole has a battery life of one to two days with normal use, and it even alerts caregivers by email or text notifications when the battery is low.
Cost: The insert is $359, and its related data plan starts at $29.95 a month.
Project Lifesaver’s alarm system involves a non-GPS device and is known to be one of the easiest-to-use items on this list. No apps or touchscreens are involved: A wristband worn by the senior simply transmits a radio signal to a handheld receiver that stays with the caregiver. When the senior leaves the “safety zone” — about 100 feet indoors and up to 300 feet outdoors — an alarm sounds on the receiver to alert the caregiver.
To get the alarm system, caregivers have to enroll seniors in the Project Lifesaver organization locally. Project Lifesaver works with certified, public-safety agencies — like fire and rescue teams, first responders, and law enforcement. In a crisis, a trained emergency team can respond to a caregiver’s area, with recovery times averaging about 30 minutes.
Cost: The Project Lifesaver equipment package — receiver, transmitter, and wristbands — can be purchased through a local Project Lifesaver agency. Prices may vary, but some agencies list the annual cost at $300.
AngelSense’s specialized tracking technology offers a wide range of benefits and utility to caregivers. The following features can be accessed through a smartphone app synced with the device:
One of its most unique tracking features is one- or two-way voice tools that enable caregivers to hear the user’s surroundings or speak with their loved one. In addition to the handheld device, AngelSense also has wearable trackers that can be fastened onto clothing, like on a sleeve, belt, or shirt.
Cost: The AngelSense kit containing the tracking device and fasteners is listed for $229. There’s a service plan starting at approximately $33 a month, plus an activation fee.
The easiest way to track your loved one is with something they wear on a daily basis — like a watch. With the use of modern technology, many watches can double as GPS-tracking devices to help caregivers and family members track the movements of dementia patients in their care. Dementia tracker watches can also help track your senior’s health with features that monitor heart rate, sleep, and more.
If wearing a GPS tracker is out of the question, there are also options that can be inserted into a wallet or a bag, attached to a lanyard or keychain, or simply placed in a pocket.
The PocketFinder Smart Tracker uses GPS, Wi-Fi, and cellular information to locate users. The device, just like the keyless entry remote control for a car, is small and fits easily on a key chain or in your pocket — plus it’s waterproof. Users can log in online or through a mobile app to view the following information from the tracker:
The PocketFinder app gives updates through email and text notifications. PocketFinder also alerts you when the device leaves a specific “geo-fence zone” that you can create.
Cost: The device alone is $159, with a monthly service plan starting at $13.
iTraq bills itself as the world’s first global location device. It uses cell towers to determine location, enabling it to be used anywhere around the world where there’s cell service. The iTraq Nano device itself is about half the size of most smartphones and easily slides into a pocket or connects to a key chain. A mobile app reports the Nano’s location with timestamps. iTraq also features a “Guard Zone,” where users specify a radius on a map and receive alerts if the iTraq goes beyond the pre-set radius.
Cost: iTraq’s Nano is $129, with a service plan costing $59 annually.
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The Bay Alarm Medical Alert Button is a lightweight, ultra-compact device that can be attached to a lanyard or placed in a convenient carrying case. Using Bay Alarm Medical’s app, caregivers can look up the user’s location at any moment as well as check on battery life. In a crisis, the patient can click a button, and Bay Alarm Medical’s response team will contact the user’s friends, family, or neighbors — they can even notify local emergency services if needed.
Cost: The Bay Alarm Medical Alert Button currently costs $79, plus a $30 monthly subscription fee with an additional $10/month if you choose to add fall detection.
If you are looking for highly reviewed GPS trackers with fast shipping, Amazon is the way to go. Take a look at the best-selling dementia trackers on Amazon:
Among Amazon dementia trackers, the LandAirSea 54 GPS Tracker is the number one seller. This waterproof, magnetic GPS-tracking device can attach to vehicles, fit in small pockets, or be hidden in a bag. This device uses Google Maps for tracking and offers real-time location that can be viewed by caregivers online or via the SilverCloud app. It offers the following useful tracking features:
Users can also share their location by sharing a link via text message. The LandAirSea 54 is known to be dependable, with 6-foot tracking accuracy.
Cost: The listed price on Amazon is $29.95. Users must also pay $19.95/month for the subscription.
Tracki is a GPS-tracking device with worldwide coverage. This small and lightweight device works anywhere with any network. It comes with a built-in SIM card, strong fixture magnet, waterproof cover, belt clip, keychain, and lanyard. Tracki’s alerts and features include the following:
Family members and caregivers can track their elderly loved one’s location with Tracki’s app. If real-time tracking is not needed, the dementia tracker will track only one to three times per day, resulting in battery life that can last for 30 to 75 days.
Cost: On Amazon, Tracki is $19 with subscription costs starting at $9.95/month.
Regardless of how convenient modern technologies are, it’s still important for caregivers to plan many ways to help keep senior loved ones safe. Take the following steps if the person you care for begins to exhibit risky wandering behaviors:
GPS trackers for dementia patients have many benefits. They can help you track your loved one’s movements, detect falls, monitor heart rate, and alert emergency authorities. However, it is not the only way you can utilize technology to care for a senior with dementia.
Consider the following technologies to make caring for your loved one easier and more fun:
Creating a safety plan and using tracking technology can help you minimize the dangers of dementia symptoms, specifically wandering. If you know your loved one is at risk, think of scenarios that might create confusion and figure out ways to stay aware of their whereabouts — a device from the list above may be a solution.
For those in the advanced stages of dementia, long-term memory care in a secure environment may be a safer solution. Specialized memory care units generally have professional care in a standalone wing or in a secured area of an assisted living facility with 24-hour supervision. The physical layouts of dementia care units are even specially designed to be easy to navigate, which further minimizes the likelihood of wandering.
If you need help finding a suitable option for a loved one with dementia, reach out to a Senior Living Advisor at A Place for Mom for tailored, local advice. They can help you navigate potential home care or memory care options, and their advice is always free.
Original article by A Place for Mom editor, Danny Szlauderbach.
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