Millions of American are caring for a loved one with dementia at home and many turn to tracking and monitoring devices to help them manage the daily juggle of working, ensuring their loved one’s safety and maintaining their own sanity.L
There’s a lot riding on technology that could keep people in their homes longer. As the number of older adults grows, the number of family members available to care for them is expected to decline, according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Monitoring technology promises to prolong independent living for adults with memory problems and to provide respite for their family caregivers but technology isn’t a catchall. Technology can keep tabs on people with dementia, but apps crash, batteries die and systems fail
Joseph Gaugler, a public health professor at the University of Minnesota, studied the effectiveness of remote activity monitoring technology over a six-month period for caregivers of people living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. He found that such technology works best for people in the early stages of dementia but even then, families often struggle with it.
Technological devices for adults with dementia you may want to check-out*:
LG’s GizmoPal 2
GismoPal 2 is a child’s tracking watch. Equipped with GPS meant for parents to track its location via an app on their smartphone. The watch also allows the wearer to call, and receive calls from a limited number of contacts. Location Devices to Track Loved Ones Who Wander
AngelSense provides caregivers a comprehensive view of their loved one’s activities, comings and goings. The device attaches to a loved one’s clothing and can only be removed by the caregiver. It provides a daily timeline of locations, routes and transit speed and sends an instant alert to caregivers if their loved one is in an unfamiliar place. Caregivers can listen in to hear what is happening around their loved one, can receive an alert if their loved one has not left for an appointment on time, allows caregivers to communicate with their loved one, and sends an alarm to locate your loved one – wherever they are.
GPS Smart Sole
Similar to the GPS Shoe and from the same designers, the GPS Smart Sole fits into most shoes and allows caregivers to track their loved one from any smartphone, tablet or web browser. The shoe insert is enabled with GPS technology and allows real-time syncing, a detailed report of location history, and allows users to set up a safe radius for their loved one.
iTraq is a tracking device that can be used to track pretty much anything – from loved ones to luggage, this tracker pairs with an app on a smartphone to find anyone and anything. For seniors, the device includes a motion or fall sensor and will send an alert if a fall is detected. It also has a temperature sensor. Their newest device, the iTraq Nano is marketed as the world’s smallest all-in-one tracking device that has global tracking, two months battery life, is water and dust resistant is able to be charged wirelessly. The device also has an SOS button that will send an instant alert to friends and family, notifying them of their loved one’s precise location.
MedicAlert Safely Home
This device was originally created to help emergency responders treat patients who could not speak for themselves. Today, the device also helps people with dementia who wander. The device is worn as a bracelet and when a loved one goes missing, caregivers can call the police and have the police call the 24-hour hotline to get the location of the missing person. Caregivers can also call the hotline themselves to get information. In addition to a tracking device, the bracelet has important medical information engraved upon it.
Mindme offers two lifesaving devices, one is a location device, the other is an alarm. The alarm allows the user to alert a Mindme response center in case of a fall or other emergency. The locator device is specifically designed for people with dementia or other cognitive disabilities. The simple device works as a pendant that can be put in a bag or pocket and allows caregivers to track the user online at any time. Caregivers can also set a radius for the user and will be alerted if the person travels outside that zone.
PocketFinder was founded in 2005 by a single parent who wanted to know the whereabouts of his young son, especially when he wasn’t there. Their slogan, “If you love it, locate it!” sums up their philosophy and service offerings. Tracking everything from luggage to pets to children to seniors, the company offers a wide range of emerging technological products. PocketFinder is designed to be the smallest tracker on the market and the device can fit in the palm of your hand. It has a battery life up to one week and allows caregivers to track wearers through a user-friendly app. The device was updated in January 2017 and now includes three location technologies including GPS, Cell ID and Google Wi-Fi Touch. It also now has an SOS button.
The mission of Project Lifesaver is “to provide timely response to save lives and reduce potential injury for adults and children who wander due to Alzheimer’s, autism and other related condition or disorders.” Seniors who are enrolled in Project Lifesaver are given a personal transmitter that they wear around their ankle. If they wander, the caregiver calls a local Project Lifesaver agency and a trained team will respond. Recovery times average 30 minutes and many who wander are found within a few miles of their home. In addition to the location device, Project Lifesaver works with public safety agencies to train them on the risks associated with wandering.
Revolutionary Tracker has location-based systems to keep tabs on seniors who may wander. The company strives to “bring an unparalleled level of functionality, capability, ease of use and relevant presentation of information to give people the ability to extend communication, knowledge, protection and care for their loved ones.” Their GPS enabled personal tracker features an SOS button for emergencies and offers real-time tracking. This device allows multiple seniors to be tracked at the same time and syncs directly to a caregiver’s smart phone or computer.
Safe Link is another GPS tracking system available for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. The product promises to “increase safety for the elderly, promote independent living and ultimately lead to a healthier lifestyle.” Safe Link is a small device carried by the person who may wander. The device periodically sends its geographic coordinates to central servers and family members and caregivers can view the wearer’s location via website. The device needs to be charged and worn at all times. All devices have an SOS button for emergencies.
Trax is touted as the world’s smallest and lightest live GPS tracker. The device sends position, speed, and direction through the cellular network directly to your app on a smartphone. Trax comes with a clip that is easy to attach to a loved one. The app allows caregivers to set “Geofences” and will send an alert if a loved one enters or leaves a predetermined area. Trax Geofences have no size limit, caregivers can create as many fence areas as needed, and can schedule when those virtual fences are in effect.
*OPICA has not tested and does not endorse any of the products listed above.