Wandering is one of the more challenging issues facing caregivers and family members of dementia patients. People with severe dementia can easily injure themselves, lose track of time, or even get lost if they’re unsupervised.
- Tracking devices for people with dementia provide numerous benefits, including enhanced safety, peace of mind for caregivers and family members, and the ability to maintain independence and dignity for the person with dementia.
- Caregivers should be aware of potential concerns, such as compromised privacy and perceptions of dehumanization, and address these concerns with empathy and clear communication.
- If an individual with dementia refuses to wear a tracking device, caregivers can employ strategies such as gradual introduction, integrating the tracker with familiar objects, and involving the person in the decision-making process to help them feel more comfortable with the device.
Luckily, there are specific dementia tracking devices that can help people with cognitive impairments. The trackers allow caregivers to track their loved ones in real time. The trackers can also alert family members in case of an emergency.
In this article, we explore trackers for people with dementia and the different ways they can help keep your loved one safe. Let’s dive in!
- Why People with Dementia Need Trackers
- Trackers for People with Dementia
- Advantages of Trackers for People with Dementia
- Disadvantages of Trackers for People with Dementia
- What to Do If a Person With Dementia Refuses to Wear Their Tracker
Why People with Dementia Need Trackers
Dementia is a progressive neurological disorder that affects millions of people worldwide, leading to cognitive decline and memory loss. As the disease progresses, individuals with dementia may become disoriented, confused, and prone to wandering.
Tracking devices can save the lives of people with dementia. 60% of dementia patients are prone to wandering, which puts them in harm’s way.
This can present significant safety concerns for both the individual and their caregivers. Tracking devices have become increasingly popular as a means to address these issues and provide peace of mind for families and caregivers.
Here are all the ways tracking devices can help dementia patients:
Keep a Close Eye
One of the best features of dementia trackers is GPS. It allows caregivers to closely monitor their loved ones through a cellular connection without making them uncomfortable.
Tracking devices can help caregivers and family members quickly locate the person with dementia, reducing the risk of accidents, injury, or other dangerous situations.
Senior care facilities might use dementia trackers to keep an eye on a number of residents at once. This is especially helpful if residents have mild cognitive dysfunction and don’t require constant physical supervision.
30% of older adults will fall and seriously injure themselves every year. This percentage drastically increases with people who have dementia. That’s because the loss of cognitive function might also affect their vision and perception.
That’s why trackers with fall detection can be handy. If they detect that your loved one has fallen, they will alert you and connect with an emergency call center in case help is needed!
If your loved one suffers from a medical condition, a GPS tracker can help. Some trackers can be set up to constantly measure the wearer’s vitals. The device will immediately notify a caregiver if there are drastic changes.
In addition to medical alerts, dementia trackers offer geofencing capabilities. You can set up a geofence around your home so you will be notified if the wearer leaves the geofence parameters.
You might also set up geo-fences around areas such as familiar parks or cafés. This way, you’ll also receive a notification if the wearer enters these locations.
The best part is that you can include multiple contacts. If you’re unavailable when the wearer wanders the tracker can alert multiple contacts.
Wandering incidents can lead to dangerous situations that require emergency services or hospitalizations. By using tracking devices, caregivers and family members can locate and assist the person with dementia before these situations escalate, reducing the need for emergency interventions and hospitalizations.
In case the person with dementia gets lost, you can easily locate them via the tracker.
Even if the tracker’s battery dies or they take it off, you can still find their most recent location, which will significantly help in finding them.
Trackers for People with Dementia
Tracking devices for people with dementia offer numerous benefits, including enhanced safety and security, peace of mind for caregivers and family members, and the ability to maintain independence and dignity for the person with dementia.
Now that you know how trackers can help people with dementia, here are a few dementia tracker options currently on the market:
Jiobit is the ultimate tracker for seniors and people with dementia. The tracking device is tiny, meaning it’s almost unnoticeable.
The tracker has a built-in internet connection. This means you get accurate, real-time tracking, even if the tracker isn’t connected to a nearby device. With Jiobit, you can build care teams. Care teams can include family members, friends, and caregivers!
Jiobit doesn’t just offer live tracking. It also has an activity history. This means you can view your loved one’s entire day while still giving them a sense of privacy.
Jiobit can be worn in a variety of ways, on a belt, elastic bands, and even inside clothing with an optional pin lock pouch kit. Jiobit can also be used on pets, both cats and dogs.
|Jiobit Pros||Jiobit Cons|
|Compact size||Might easily get lost|
|Activity timeline||Needs to be charged on average weekly|
|911 Emergency dispatch|
|Alert button feature|
Smart Sole is probably the most innovative and discreet tracking device in this article. Instead of a wearable tracking device that your loved one can take off or lose, Smart Sole is inserted into the shoes.
This makes for incredibly discrete tracking, which can be particularly helpful if your loved one refuses to wear or removes their tracking device. People with cognitive impairments might forget their trackers, so having the tracker be a part of their shoes means they’re unlikely to forget it!
Smart Sole’s subtle placement might help people with dementia who are embarrassed about wearing a tracking device. No one will notice they’re wearing it.
The only downside is that Smart Sole is just a plain tracker. It doesn’t include any safety features or alert systems that come built-in with other dementia trackers.
|Smart Sole Pros||Smart Sole Cons|
|Wearable sole, so you can constantly monitor your loved one||No alert system|
|Hidden tracking||No special features|
|Durable and water resistant||Needs to be charged every 2-4 days|
|Fully-charges in two to four hours|
Theora Connect by Theroa Care
Theora Connect is basically a smartwatch for seniors. It’s incredibly user-friendly. It’s a watch that can track steps, sends weather change alerts, as well as give the caregiver access to their loved one’s location.
This tracker is ideal for older people with an active lifestyle because of its numerous health features. It includes health assessment tools such as step counting and heart rate monitoring.
Theora Connect can provide substantial aid in the early stages of cognitive impairment. It allows the user to continue their daily lives as usual but acts as a non-invasive tracker for caregivers and family members. The watch also has an SOS button in the event of an emergency.
|Theora Connect Pros||Theora Connect Cons|
|Tracks steps and vital signs||The watch is easy to take off|
|Parkinsonism-friendly||Needs to be charged daily|
|Pick from three different watch faces|
Lockly Dementia-Proof Smart Lock
Lockly dementia-proof smart lock completely eliminates the need for a tracker. The smart lock keeps people in the home safe by preventing them from accessing the outdoors. You can program the lock to use fingerprints to increase the security of the lock further.
The Lockly Smart Lock would be especially helpful for people who wander at night if a caregiver or family member is trying to sleep. The lock can be easily installed on any door in the home to keep loved ones away from restricted areas or outdoor access doors.
You can control the lock remotely or through voice assistants like Alexa and Google.
|Lockly Smart Lock Pros||Lockly Smart Lock Cons|
|Completely prevents wandering by locking doors||Not wearable|
|Remote lock through the mobile application|
Advantages of Trackers for People with Dementia
Using trackers for people with dementia presents several advantages, which contribute to their safety, well-being, and overall quality of life.
Here are all the pros of getting trackers for people with dementia:
Suitable for Several Stages of Dementia
You might think tracking devices are only for people with later-stage severe dementia who need constant supervision. Yet, they’re suitable for everyone, especially people with mild cognitive dysfunction who are ambulatory.
Though they might not need constant tracking, you can adjust the tracker to suit their needs.
For example, instead of getting alerts in case the wearer leaves the geo-fence, you can set up the device to notify you once they return home! This way, you’ll know if they’re late while still honoring their need for independence.
People living with dementia often feel like they’re losing their independence due to constant supervision. Tracking devices can allow them to be active, go out, and maintain their independent social life.
They’ll also feel a lot more confident with the tracker. Instead of feeling fearful and apprehensive about leaving home, wearing a tracker assures them that their whereabouts are known. In case of any trouble, their loved one is one notification away!
A dementia diagnosis can be difficult for both the individual and their family caregivers. However, tracking devices can keep their lives going as normally as possible.
Dementia can lead to a loss of independence for those affected. Trackers allow individuals to maintain a sense of autonomy while participating in activities they enjoy, helping to preserve their dignity and quality of life.
Peace of Mind
Caregivers and family members often experience stress and anxiety when caring for someone with dementia.
Trackers offer them peace of mind, knowing that they can promptly find their loved one in case of an emergency or wandering incident.
Disadvantages of Trackers for People with Dementia
Trackers are important for keeping people with dementia safe. Still, some people might not particularly like them due to the following reasons:
Loss of Privacy
Privacy is a fundamental right for all individuals, including those living with dementia. Continuous monitoring through tracking devices may inadvertently infringe upon the privacy of people with dementia.
Some may argue that privacy concerns are less significant for individuals in the advanced stages of dementia. However, it is important to recognize that the sense of personal autonomy and dignity is valued by everyone, regardless of their cognitive abilities.
Although caregivers may assure dementia patients that the tracking devices will not be used to invade their privacy, individuals with dementia may experience paranoia or distorted thought patterns. This could make them less receptive to the use of tracking devices, despite their potential benefits.
Perception of Dehumanization
The moment individuals are diagnosed with dementia, they often experience a sense of losing control over their lives. This can be exacerbated by changes in the way others treat them and the need for specialized tools to maintain a semblance of normalcy.
It is worth noting that tracking devices are commonly used to monitor pets or restrict the movements of criminals.
This association may lead some critics to argue that the use of trackers for people with dementia is inappropriate, as it could contribute to the existing stigma surrounding the condition. It is crucial to approach the implementation of tracking devices with sensitivity and respect for the individual’s dignity and autonomy.
Although tracking devices enable caregivers to consistently monitor the location of individuals with dementia, reliance on these devices may inadvertently lead to reduced care and supervision in some facilities.
In senior care settings, some might opt to decrease staff levels, relying primarily on tracking devices to monitor dementia patients. It is essential to recognize that while trackers can assist in locating individuals during emergencies, they cannot prevent accidents or ensure well-being.
Tracking devices should not be viewed as a replacement for attentive caregivers who provide close supervision and personalized care for your loved one. Instead, these devices should be considered complementary tools that enhance overall safety and support.
What to Do If a Person With Dementia Refuses to Wear Their Tracker
If a person with dementia refuses to wear their tracker, caregivers should consider the following strategies to address the situation:
- Empathy and Communication: Take time to listen to the individual’s concerns and try to understand their perspective. Communicate the importance of the tracking device for their safety and well-being, and reassure them that it is not intended to invade their privacy or limit their independence.
- Gradual Introduction: Introduce the tracker gradually, allowing the person with dementia to become familiar with the device over time. Start by placing it nearby, then encourage them to hold or wear it for short periods before increasing the duration.
- Integration with Familiar Objects: If possible, incorporate the tracker into items the person with dementia already uses or wears, such as a wristwatch, necklace, or keychain. This may make the tracking device feel less intrusive and more acceptable.
- Involve the Individual in the Decision-Making Process: Engage the person with dementia in discussions about the type of tracking device and its features. Allowing them to participate in the decision-making process can help them feel more comfortable and in control.
- Address Misconceptions: If the individual with dementia has misconceptions about the tracker, such as fears of being monitored or feeling dehumanized, provide clear and accurate information to dispel these concerns.
- Positive Reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement to encourage the person with dementia to wear the tracker, offering praise, reassurance, or small rewards when they comply.
- Seek Professional Guidance: Consult with healthcare professionals or dementia care specialists for additional guidance on how to address resistance to wearing a tracker. They may have valuable insights and suggestions based on their experience with similar situations.
- Alternative Solutions: If the individual with dementia continues to refuse to wear the tracker, consider alternative safety measures, such as supervised outings, home modifications to prevent wandering, or enrolling in a local Safe Return program.
Remember that patience and understanding are key when dealing with resistance to wearing a tracker among individuals with dementia. It is essential to respect their autonomy while also prioritizing their safety and well-being.
Trackers for people with dementia can enhance safety and security, provide peace of mind for caregivers and family members, and help maintain independence and dignity for the person with dementia.
These devices can reduce emergency services and hospitalizations, support care planning, and offer various other benefits. Some people may have concerns such as compromised privacy and the perception of dehumanization when it comes to people wearing trackers.
Strategies for caregivers to handle situations where individuals with dementia refuse to wear their trackers include introducing the tracker slowly, emphasizing the safety and peace of mind trackers provide, and using alternative solutions like dementia-proof locks.
By implementing these strategies and prioritizing empathy, communication, and gradual introduction, caregivers can help individuals with dementia feel more comfortable with tracking devices, ensuring their safety and well-being.
Trackers For People With Dementia Frequently Asked Questions
To track your elderly parent with dementia, you can use a GPS tracking device specifically designed for individuals with dementia. These devices, which come in various forms such as wristbands, necklaces, or keychains, use GPS technology to monitor the person’s location, enabling you to quickly locate them in case of emergencies or wandering incidents.
The best GPS tracker for Alzheimer’s patients depends on individual needs and preferences. Popular options include Joibit, Theora Connect, and GPS SmartSole. These devices may offer essential features such as real-time location tracking, geofencing, and two-way communication, making them suitable for ensuring the safety and well-being of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.
Yes, there are smart locks designed to enhance the safety of people with dementia. These locks can be controlled remotely by caregivers or family members, allowing them to secure doors and prevent wandering incidents. They often integrate with smartphone apps, offering features such as notifications, access codes, and scheduling options for added convenience and security.
If your mother refuses to wear her tracking device, consider using empathy and communication to address her concerns, and gradually introduce the device to help her become familiar with it. You can also try integrating the tracker into familiar objects, such as a wristwatch or necklace, or involving her in the decision-making process to help her feel more comfortable and in control.
Amie Clark, BSW
Aging Advocate and Senior Care Expert
Amie has worked with older adults and their families for the past twenty-plus years of her career. Her senior care knowledge is based on her experience as a social worker, family caregiver, and senior care consultant. Learn more about Amie here.