Upon reaching old age, our bodies and minds tend to weaken. It makes the elderly more likely to suffer from dementia-type diseases. Although younger age groups may also develop dementia, seniors are the core group and often need support from their families.

Dementia has many devastating symptoms but getting lost is the worst one. A person forgets where they live and needs help getting home. Under such circumstances, a GPS tracker for dementia patients may be life-saving.

Would you like to learn more about GPS tracking for seniors with dementia? Read this guide for details.

What Dementia Is And How Often It Happens 

According to Dementia.org statistics, dementia is the leading cause of death for women in Australia. Moreover, current estimates are that about 5.8 million US citizens have Alzheimer’s or related dementias. This number includes 5.6 million aged 65 and older and about 200,000 under age 65 with early Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association states the situation will worsen in the future, and by 2050 the number of people with Alzheimer’s can reach up to 12.7 million citizens in case we don’t figure out how to prevent or slow this condition. 

Unlike a common belief, dementia is not a single disease. It is a medical condition that groups many disorders connected with the loss of cognitive functioning. The patients who suffer from dementia usually: 

  • Are confused by social interactions 
  • Experience memory loss 
  • Have difficulties educating themselves, even reading and writing 
  • Take a lot of time to complete simple tasks 
  • Have sudden changes in mood 
  • Experience hallucinations 

Of course, the symptoms may vary, but if your older relative has any of these, it would be a good idea to consult a doctor. Medical help is essential since there are many ways to reduce and slow down cognitive decline with simple activities. It is useful to practice drawing, puzzles, games, physical exercise, and eating healthy. 

Coping with dementia is dealing with the negative consequences of mental decline. That’s why many patients need assistance to live and function normally. Besides the discussed activities, you must ensure your loved ones’ safety.

How GPS Trackers Can Help Dementia Patients and Their Families

As previously mentioned, dementia patients may easily get lost, end up in danger, or have an accident, so remaining autonomous is quite problematic. If you want to help your spouse, relative, or friend with dementia, the bare minimum you could do is use GPS tracking. A device that tracks a person’s location reduces risks and brings the following benefits.

  • Prolongs the life of a dementia patient

Having a GPS tracker for dementia patients may help avoid dangerous situations, ensure safety and thus prolong the life of your loved one.

  • Relieves the stress of relatives

With the help of dementia tracker GPS, you no longer need to be there 24/7. You can live your life and solve your problems while maintaining control of your loved one’s safety.

  • Helps with navigation

GPS tracking for seniors with dementia can help them with orientation, simply reminding them where and when they are, if they lose memory.

  • Notifies about leaving “safe zone”

If your loved one has severe dementia, doctors recommend setting up a specific “safe zone” where they won’t harm themselves. If they leave it, you will know about their location immediately. 

Overall, a GPS tracker for dementia patients is the best way modern technologies can assist with this disease. It gives patients more freedom while relatives can continue to live their lives. 

Factors to Consider When Buying a GPS Tracker 

Location tracking combines a wide field of different technologies. Adults track their children on their way to school; health services track patients; business owners track their employees at work. Therefore, you must know what matters most before choosing one option from various devices.

Overall, a GPS tracker for dementia patients must have:

Long Battery Life

There is no point in a safety device if it’s not accessible most of the time. A good battery cycle will ensure that a dementia patient won’t have it off during an accident. Also, be aware of “fast-charge” key features while in the store.

Accurate and Unobtrusive GPS Tracking

Location tracking is GPS’s primary function, so it has to perform accurately. Any bugs and issues are critical as they can ruin someone’s life and put them in danger. More importantly, the dementia patient GPS tracker has to be unobtrusive. You shouldn’t intervene in someone’s private life without permission, so it would be nice to track the location of a dementia patient only when necessary.

SOS Button

An emergency call button is usually included in your tracking software. It’s a physical/digital button you can tap to send emergency contacts your location and signal of danger. It may be helpful in many cases, especially if you have a relative with a dementia-type disease. This way, you ensure their safety in any possible scenario.

Small Dimensions and Be Lightweight 

Dementia symptoms affect not only mental but also physical functions of the body. It gets much more challenging to coordinate and wear anything, so the chosen GPS device should be mobile, light, and small. It must also be easy to notice. So buy a bright case to make it colorful and less likely to be lost.

Yet ideally, it’s better to prefer GPS tracking safety apps over physical devices. They don’t burden dementia patients with wearing a separate device since a mobile phone is enough.

User-Friendly Design 

Your elderly aren’t technological geniuses, so choosing a device or app with a user-friendly design is essential. The colors should be bright and vibrant, the font should be large enough, and the notifications should produce an ear-catching sound. Dementia tracker GPS will become a must-have device in the routine life of dementia patients. That’s why it must be as convenient as possible.

4 Types of a GPS Tracker For Dementia Patients

According to the requirements above, bulky devices are not the best for dementia patients. They take a lot of space and are inconvenient to use. Therefore, you’d better choose a mobile app of one of these dementia tracker GPS options:

#1. Wearables

A wearable GPS tracker for dementia patients is a device that may look like a necklace, bracelet, locket, etc. You can choose from various designs, and if fashion is your main concern, wearable trackers are for you. They are light to carry around and easy to use with emergency panic buttons. At the same time, wearables are easy to forget, especially for dementia patients.

Most of these devices support a mobile application and may not offer full functionality without it. The battery life differs depending on the brand and model you choose. Sometimes you can charge the battery. In the other cases, there is single battery life, meaning the device will last longer but may stop working when you won’t expect it. 

By the way, most wearable devices use GSM technology, so they don’t require an active Internet connection.

In general, wearable GPS trackers are a balanced solution with their pros and cons. The most critical problem is that they are easy to forget or lose. So you must choose wisely, keeping in mind the dementia state and symptoms of your loved one.

#2. Keychains 

A keychain-type GPS tracker for dementia patients is a wearable device similar to a locket or bracelet described above.

Such trackers are even lighter to carry around. They have a shape of a keychain, so in case your loved ones with dementia wear keys, wearing them won’t be a problem. Otherwise, keychains are even easier to forget than other wearables. So choose keychain devices only if you are sure they won’t be lost. 

Some keychains connect with mobile safety applications and usually aren’t rechargeable. Despite that, lacking any interface except for the panic button provides a long battery life. All a patient has to do when wearing a keychain is to push a button if an accident happens. 

#3. The Built-in Function of the Smartphone

Modern smartphones have a GPS-tracking capability you can enable to share your location. Besides location sharing, you can also get directions to your friend or set labels for shared locations. Even though using built-in smartphone GPS monitoring may be challenging to seniors because of a more complicated interface, it’s still an option.

Most importantly, this smartphone’s feature is the basis for using GPS data in different mobile apps, including ones for personal safety. Patients with dementia need safety apps for sure. Yet it should not be round-the-clock monitoring of a person’s movement but an opportunity to quickly find their location in emergencies. 

Therefore, for a patient with dementia, the built-in GPS function of the smartphone is not enough. A specialized mobile application is needed to use this feature wisely.

#4. Smartphone Safety Apps 

We recommend installing personal safety apps to get the most out of a smartphone’s GPS tracking feature. They have rich functionality that allows you to track seniors, communicate with them, receive emergency alerts, and more.

Overall, personal safety apps fall into three categories:

GPS + panic button apps. Our loved ones with dementia may deny the monitoring itself but ask for the opportunity to instantly call someone in emergency.

GPS + fall detection apps. These apps use smartphone sensors and GPS capabilities to detect falls.

GPS + inactivity monitoring apps. Comparing different mobile apps in the market, we were surprised to see how rare the inactivity monitoring feature is. Meanwhile, this function is the only way to help a person unable to press the panic button.

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Last Update: 23 March 2024