It is good to have your own location system. It provides a sense of security and freedom for people with dementia and their relatives to know that the person will be found if they should wander at some point.
In Denmark, more than 50% of people with dementia wander during the course of their illness. Some people with dementia wander more than once. Good reason for many relatives to worry about their family member when that person has dementia.
A location or tracking system is able to provide reassurance for the person with dementia, so that he or she feels encouraged to do more things independently and continues to so for longer. This helps quality of life and self-esteem, and has a positive effect on the relatives.
Many relatives spend a lot of time and effort worrying about and caring for loved ones who have dementia. A location device in a pocket may give the person with dementia a sense of freedom and reassurance so they can maintain friendships, activities and perhaps the daily walk on their own. It gives their partner or relatives the time and opportunity to have time to themselves and their interests without having to worry that the person with dementia wandering.
There are many different kinds of location systems and many location technologies. In this article, you can:
The overview includes the advantages and disadvantages of the different kinds of location systems, making it easier to decide which location device works best in your daily life.
If you want to read about how you buy a location system and also what the law says about localising people with dementia, please read the guide on location systems for people with dementia.
There is no location system that suits everyone. Your needs and wishes may be different from other families who are also experiencing dementia.
Before you start investigating what kinds of location systems and technologies are on the market, it is a good idea to think about what is important to you in your daily life. Is there a need for the person with dementia to continue playing tennis, doing the shopping or visiting a neighbour? Is there a greater risk of the person with dementia wandering at night rather than during the day? Should your children, grandchildren or neighbour be notified if the location system sends an alarm? What are your attitudes to tracking and monitoring? Many people feel their privacy is being invaded if they are monitored 24/7 and if the information about their whereabouts is stored in the cloud or on a company’s computers. If the person with dementia is not comfortable with the system, there is a risk that he or she will stop using it.
Your habits, routines and attitudes also have an influence on the type of location system that suits you best. The best choice is the system that can be adapted to your daily life instead of vice versa.
Once you have found some location systems that look interesting, you can look into what each system is capable of. For example, you can look into the following:
Choose the location system that is the easiest fit for your daily life. If the system involves changing many of your habits and routines, it is not the right choice. For example, choosing a GPS transmitter designed for shoes is no good if the person with dementia has the habit of taking their shoes off. Similarly, it is no good hoping to be able to trace a person via a mobile phone, if they never take their phone with them. The location device’s battery also makes demands on you. Will you remember to charge the device once a day, or should you choose a model that remains charged for longer? Remember that charging the location device can be tiresome if it is sewn into a garment or the sole of a shoe. In this case, you could choose a location system that can be charged wirelessly.
Read about the only location system designed specifically to safeguard people with dementia.
There are many different kinds of location systems with many different names. Locations systems are, among other things, called:
Trackers, transmitters, locator systems, tracking devices, location devices, tracking tags and GPS units.
The technology in the different location systems is not necessarily the same, and this may have a big influence on what the system is capable of, its design and how it is used.
Regardless of the technology used by the different kinds of location systems, what they have in common is they can save lives.
Below you can read about the most commonly used systems.
A dementia watch is most often a wristwatch with a built-in GPS transmitter. There are also larger, more complicated versions that are used in the home. You can talk to some of the watches and they can reply with information about the time, day of the week and date.
The person with dementia will be monitored around the clock – perhaps against his or her will.
GPS units in shoe soles, jackets and key rings
Small GPS transmitters (GPS tags) can be concealed in shoe soles, jackets and key rings. Concealed transmitters are particularly good for people with dementia who may be a little uncomfortable with the transmitter or who often empty the contents of jackets and bags.
Virtually all smartphones have built-in GPS transmitters. Before you can use your telephone as a location device, you need to install a program or an app so that your relatives can access the GPS information in the telephone of the person with dementia.
Otiom is a brand new type of location system which uses a combination of technologies.
The system makes it possible to maintain a high level of privacy, because Otiom does not save more than the last five places someone has been. No one can see where the person has otherwise been. If the alarm goes off, the helpers you have selected will also receive directions so they can quickly reach the person who has wandered.
Otiom prevents persons with dementia from getting lost