A personal tracking device might sound like overkill. But if you’re a caregiver or have a family member with dementia or Alzheimer’s, it’s a necessity — and one of the only ways to prevent wandering.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, six in 10 people with dementia will wander. It can happen in the blink of an eye with huge consequences. Someone with dementia may not remember their name or address. In their disorientated state, they may wander into dangerous areas, such as busy roads, dense foliage, and open bodies of water.
Fortunately, you can make a plan today to protect them from wandering. Location devices, also known as tracking devices for people, allow you to locate a person using GPS. It’s terrifying to lose track of someone close to you. But with the devices below, you can quickly locate your lost loved one — and that peace of mind is priceless.
Is GPS For Elderly The Right Choice?
Safety is always a primary concern, and a personal tracking device might seem like an easy way to avoid losing track of your loved one. But there are ethical considerations you should discuss with your family and loved one if they are able:
- Would they consider a location tracker an invasion of privacy?
- When should they start using a locating device?
- Are there legal issues to consider if they cannot give input on the decision to use a location tracker?
A tracker could help someone suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s live with a greater sense of personal freedom. But as the Alzheimer Society of Canada points out, “relying on a locating device may lead family members or caregivers to check in with the person with dementia less frequently.”
Have an honest discussion about how the locating device would be used, and what role it would have in your family’s ability to monitor your loved one’s health.
Tracking Devices For People With Alzheimer’s And Dementia
PocketFinder GPS, $129.95
True to what its name implies, PocketFinder is a small GPS tracker that fits into a pocket, or can be strapped to a belt. It sends real-time alerts when the tracker is out of a specified zone, and you can view the tracker’s location on a smartphone or tablet using Google Maps. A huge perk is that an unlimited number of users can view the PocketFinder’s location, which means that your entire family can check on your loved one at any time.
Mindme Locate, $140
Mindme Locate is the simpler version of Mindme, a GPS personal alarm. This tracker is specifically designed for people with dementia: it’s a small, simple, and lightweight GPS device without any confusing lights or buttons. It lasts for 48 hours between charges, and caregivers can look up the device’s location on Mindme’s website. You can also receive text or email alerts if the tracker moves outside of preset locations. Mindme requires a $20 monthly subscription to view the wearer’s location online.
Revolutionary Tracker, $199.99
In terms of tracking devices for people, Revolutionary Tracker’s RT Watch is the real deal. It’s a smartwatch capable of two-way voice calling, an SOS button for emergency help and instant calling, safety zone control, and even a listen-in ability from authorized contacts. Notably, the watch is tamper resistant. If it’s tampered with, you’ll receive an alert with the device’s exact location. Service plans start at $29 per month for 6 months, and $25 per month for 12 months.
SafeLink GPS, $149.99
First introduced six years ago, SafeLink GPS is a durable 2G GPS tracker for patients struggling with dementia and Alzheimer’s. It’s equipped with a built-in motion sensor that can automatically switch to a higher reporting frequency, which means that it can operate for more than 24 hours on a single charge. It’s small enough to slip into a pocket, purse, or the included pouch, which can be strapped to a belt.
Project Lifesaver, $499
Yes, the price is steep. But Project Lifesaver’s system offers a unique perk compared to other tracking devices for people: an entire emergency team in case someone goes missing. The system comes with a small personal transmitter that is worn around the wrist or ankle. If your loved one wanders, all you have to do is notify your local Project Lifesaver agency, and the emergency team springs into action. According to Project Lifesaver, recovery times average 30 minutes — “95% less time than standard operations.”
iTraq is a newer device that looks like a credit card — and it lasts up to four months on a single charge. Your loved one can easily carry the device in a wallet, pocket, or purse, and you’ll receive notifications when iTraq enters or leaves a specific area. You can also set your own frequency of how often you want iTraq to report its location, or you can check its location on demand through the smartphone app. iTraq requires a subscription, which costs $59 for a year, and you’ll need to purchase the charger separately for $30.
GPS SmartSole, $299
While wearable trackers and wristbands are convenient, they can also be misplaced or forgotten. GPS SmartSole fixes that issue by placing a GPS personal tracking device in the heel of a shoe insert. It works nationwide within cellular coverage areas, and it lasts 18 to 48 hours on a single charge. Caregivers can track the device’s location online, and you’ll receive an alert if your loved one exits a specific geozone. Monitoring service plans start at $29.95 per month.
MedicAlert + Alzheimer's Association Safe Return, $55
Offered by the Alzheimer’s Association, this option doesn’t use GPS — but it’s worth a mention because of its affordability. Here’s how it works: your loved one will receive a personalized member ID tag, wallet card, personal health record, and MedicAlert + Safe Return’s 24-hour emergency toll-free number. If they are reported missing, caregivers can call the emergency response line, and local Alzheimer's Association chapters will coordinate with law enforcement to find your missing loved one. With this system, emergency responders will immediately find out any critical medical information about the missing person — and if anyone finds them, they’ll know how to get back in touch with you using the information on the member ID tags.