The popular saying goes, “Not all who wander are lost.” But sometimes those who wander are in fact just that, and with an individual who has dementia, being lost can prove a grave situation. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that 6 in 10 people with dementia will wander. This includes people in the early stages of the disease, who are still vulnerable to becoming confused or disoriented for a period of time. Keeping track of the wandering resident creates a burdensome challenge for caregivers and family members. Thankfully, technological advances in wearable tracking devices offer a potential solution.
There are many wearable devices for tracking the wandering resident, giving caregivers and family members piece of mind and keeping residents safe. Below is a list of devices currently on the market:
When someone with dementia goes missing, members of this 24-hour, nationwide emergency response service can call an emergency response line, alerting a community support network that includes local Alzheimer’s Association chapters and law enforcement agencies. Responders are provided with critical medical information regarding the missing person and work to return them home quickly and safely. The service also provides ID jewelry or a pendant to be worn by dementia resident, making him/her easily identifiable by citizens and emergency personnel. The jewelry includes personalized information and MedicAlert + Safe Return’s 24-hour, toll-free number. This service is provided by the Alzheimer’s Association.
PAL is a water resistant wristwatch featuring a lockable strap. A tool is provided to unlock the strap along with a receiver for the caregiver to keep in a fixed location or carry with them. If the wristwatch moves out of the receiver’s designated “safe” area, the caregiver is alerted. The tracking system works via GSM and GPS technologies and “may be affected by areas with poor cell coverage or high, dense buildings,” according to Project Lifesaver’s website.
Mindme Locate was designed to find people who wander due to dementia or learning difficulties. The device is small and can be used as a key fob or kept in a wallet or pocket. Caregivers can visit Mindme’s website to locate the device at any time. The device uses GPS to track its location and is accurate within about 10 meters. Mindme Locate operates via battery with a lifespan of 48 hours when fully charged.
To conserve battery power, the PocketFinder device only tracks location when there is movement and is small enough to fit in a pocket or be strapped to a belt. If the person with dementia goes outside of the designated zone, an alert is sent to the tracker via mobile push notification, SMS text, or email. The device uses GPS and updates location on Google Maps every two minutes.
GPS Smart Sole puts satellite monitoring into an orthotic comfort insole. This discreet tracking device can save lives along with dignity. It is also water resistant and comes in several trim to fit sizes.
iTraq is a tracking device that uses cellular towers to determine its location. The device, created in 2015, is the size of a credit card and can be attached to a loved one’s baggage, cell phone, keys, or inside a pocket. Caregivers can view a map that shows the device’s location history and timestamps via iTraq’s mobile app. Using the device’s Guard Mode feature, caregivers can set a radius on the map so if a dementia resident wanders outside the set area (e.g. leaves the facility), the caregiver will be alerted.
This device can be tracked from a computer or a mobile app and comes in the form of a small 2G tracker or 2G watch. Both devices feature a Geo-fence, allowing caregivers to set a radius and be alerted if their loved on travels outside that area, and a tailing mode, boosting location updates to occur every 60 seconds. The 2G tracker sends alerts via email and text message to up to three phones.
This cloud-based tracking system comes in two options: A GPS Watch and Communication Device and a Touch Screen Specialty Watch (with a third option, a “GPS Deluxe Next Gen Watch Locator,” coming soon). All options use GPS tracking, 3G Smartphone communication, and touchscreen. The company recommends the second option, Touch Screen Specialty Watch, for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia because all the functionalities are associated with images for ease of use. In this option, buttons can be deactivated to avoid confusion and mistakes.
This program is the result of a partnership between the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada and MedicAlert Foundation Canada. It features services similar to those offered by the MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®, including a 24/7 Emergency hotline, MedicAlert Identification, and updates to the family or caregiver along the way.
Bluewater Security offers a wide variety of GPS tracking devices for tracking a dementia resident or a vehicle. Their devices include a Geo-fencing capability and come in many different shapes and sizes. Bluewater Security exists in the U.S. and Canada, providing national coverage.