Are GPS trackers a good idea for dementia s... - Care Community

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Are GPS trackers a good idea for dementia sufferers

Callendersgal
CallendersgalModerator

Hi everyone,

My sister, whose husband is suffering from vascular dementia, asked me the other day for my opinion on GPS tracking as she was wondering if it might be a good idea.

Although her husband is also sight impaired, he's still managing a daily walk on his own to local shops, and she wants him to have that little bit of independence for as long as he can, but is terrified every time he seems to take a little longer to return than she thinks is reasonable.

I don't have the most balanced view on this as I strongly believe it's a good idea, and I've told my family to fit one to me if I start to lose cognition, and I'd even be happy to be microchipped.

But I do know there are less radical views about it.

I've heard people say that it's a loss of dignity and personal freedom and of course it is for the average person, but in the case of dementia I'd give that the blame, not the tracker. I do know it's possible that it could be used for nefarious purposes, as in pinning down the location of someone who is away from their home in order to target it for some reason, by strangers or unscrupulous family members, but still, on balance, I'd far rather know that a tracker could locate me in the event of my going missing.

My police officer daughter tells me it's a really common thing for dementia sufferers to go missing and that it mostly doesn't hit the news unless some unfortunate person has got hopelessly lost and has died of exhaustion and exposure. And I did watch a very interesting documentary about a lady who'd gone missing, only to eventually be found deceased. It was very distressing and sad.

I think it would take a lot to change my strong view on this, but what do other members of our community think? Has anyone else any experience of using a tracker, or of a loved one wandering off and causing worry? I'd really like to give my sister a view that's perhaps based on experience or on a variety of opinions.

35 Replies
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sassy59
sassy59Ambassador

Hello Callendersgal, what a good point you make. My late mother-in-law had vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s and used to like to walk into the town. On one particular day she became confused as to how to get home. Luckily a very kind couple helped her and all was well.

I did know of one gentleman though who wasn’t as fortunate and vanished from his home only to be found deceased a few days later. Very sad.

I feel a tracker of some sort is a very good idea and could save distress and lives. Thank you for raising that point. Xxxx

Callendersgal
CallendersgalModerator in reply to sassy59

Hi sassy59,

It was really interesting to hear that you'd had a scare with your late mother-in-law when she'd become confused. It shows that you don't have to look far before you find someone who has actually experienced this, and sad to hear that you actually knew someone whose outcome from becoming confused and lost was so final.

My daughter was explaining police search procedures for a dementia victim and said that, based on long experienced, they know the lost and confused person will just go on walking and walking until they literally drop from exhaustion. A horrible thought.

So I'm really pleased to have my view confirmed that overall, trackers are a good thing and not just an invasive loss of freedom and privacy. I truly believe that it's the disorder that is the culprit here, not the equipment we need to use to keep the ones we care for safe.

Thanks so much for your input.

sassy59
sassy59Ambassador in reply to Callendersgal

That’s fine Callendersgal, my son is a police officer so would agree with what your daughter said too. It’s awful to think that lives are being lost needlessly. The tracker sounds like a way forward to me.

Enjoy your weekend. Xxxx

Hi Callendersgal

I bought a tracker for my dad, but we haven't needed to use it...as yet! You know that you won't be using it for nefarious reasons, and the reasons you give are valid safety issues. Unless your sister's husband doesn't make his way home, does he really need one yet? If the people at the local shops know him, they can help him out? They could also join the Herbert Protocol and get her husband to wear/carry something neutral that can help to identify who is so that no-one gets his address but they can track it from local police station?

Callendersgal
CallendersgalModerator in reply to lell1

Hi lell1,

That's a really sensible approach. To have a tracker ready for use if and when it's needed. And I think my brother-in-law isn't quite at the stage where it's needed as yet, either. My sister's been married to him for 62 years now and I think she'll absolutely be the best person to decide if and when it's appropriate. But I'm glad we have so many lovely, sensible members who seem to have added weight to my thought that, overall it is a good idea. Thanks so much.

How would you know all these things like them not making their way home if you didn’t live with the person with dementia I’m curious now as my mum has vascular dementia and has mentioned forgetting her bearings and getting lost but I don’t think she’s got lost to that stage but I wouldn’t know that she Dosent live with me and as far as I know is quite independent im wondering if this would benefit me now or in the future

Callendersgal
CallendersgalModerator in reply to Afrohair

Hi Afrohair,

I wouldn't intend my post to cause you any unnecessary concern about your mum's safety, but if you aren't able to see her on a regular basis, it might be something to keep in mind for the future, in case it would be helpful. Sometimes dementia sufferers do wander off and it could save a lot of worry and time if they can be located quickly. A tracker is really just a way of doing that, and is just an extra help for a person keep a little bit of independence for longer. If it's fitted it can help family or police in their search for someone who is missing. But by no means is it necessary for all dementia sufferers all of the time. And it seems that although you don't live together, you are in regular touch and I guess that's the key to knowing when such a thing might be useful in helping to keep her safe. Thanks for your kind response and I wish both you and your mum well in future. Do stay in touch and let us know how you are getting on.

lell1
lell1 in reply to Afrohair

Hi Afrohair

You wouldn't know, but maybe you need to monitor as the moment of being 'lost' doesn't creep up on people, it can happen at any time. Again I'd suggest the Herbert Protocol, so at least the police would know where to take her? Although I thoroughly believe in independence, at some point we do need to step in to ensure safety. Does your mum have friends/other family members that could go out with her? Or a befriender who would go out with her? Could also use community transport to ensure that she gets where she's going, and back again safely when she's finished shopping? If she lives in sheltered housing, they usually provide access to transport to go shopping/have a cup of tea once a week. Some sheltered accommodation will have activities for residents and members of the public. Churches have different kinds of groups going on. All these are options so that your mum can get out and about safely, without the need to have a tracker.

Afrohair
Afrohair in reply to lell1

She has no one except me and a few friends her sister but she lives alone in a bungalow and goes on her own when she goes out but she’s told me about this lost feeling she gets and has done it with me before it’s a worry when we don’t live anywhere near each other she’s on her 4th year living with this age 54

Callendersgal
CallendersgalModerator in reply to Afrohair

Hi Afrohair,

It's a real worry when you can't physically be near your mum, and a tragedy that this has happened to her at a relatively early age. At the moment I'd say to just keep in regular contact with her by any means you can. The time might come when she'll need more in the way of care, but one day at a time and if she's managing at the moment, try not to worry too much. Please keep in touch with the group. There are some lovely people here who will have been through similar situations and I'm sure can offer advice when the time comes that you need it. Very best wishes.

lell1
lell1 in reply to Afrohair

you may need to try and understand what she means by 'lost' feeling? Could be that she can't recall her plan of action and all she would need is a list of where she needs to go and in which order? And maybe what she needs from each place? Amazing how a list can instil a bit of confidence. Even asking the way can help boost confidence

Afrohair
Afrohair in reply to lell1

It’s she looses her bearing when she is out and as she lives far from town and our town is quite big she will get half way and forget where she is heading she’s already tried memory techniques but when she has that she has to wait for it all to kick in type of thing

lell1
lell1 in reply to Afrohair

taxi!!

Afrohair
Afrohair in reply to lell1

But she’s on her own she wouldn’t think that when she has those moments she Dosent know where she is to tell a taxi

lell1
lell1 in reply to Afrohair

Since the Bus Services Act was introduced, all forms of public transport should now be dementia friendly, from taxis to trains to trams. Your sister would only need to carry a card which has her needs identified that can be shown to drivers/conductors /other staff who can then discretely help. All relevant numbers could be in her fone, and people, especially in shops, would help too. Having a card for each bag would be an idea to ensure that she has one with her at all times?

Afrohair
Afrohair in reply to lell1

What is this card? as far as I know she Dosent have anything like that she keeps her illness very private being in her 50s it’s hard for people to even know as she does look young aswell so Dosent help! it would be ideal to have something like that where can I get this card ?x

lell1
lell1 in reply to Afrohair

U may need to make your own? Not that difficult to do and then get them laminated so they don't get tatty? Maybe make a few just in case she loses any?

lell1
lell1 in reply to Afrohair

oops! or try alzheimers society or other charity, they may already have templates?

Afrohair
Afrohair in reply to lell1

Thing is she still in denial and Dosent want much help

What a great idea, although good point about tracking if someone’s not home....

Callendersgal
CallendersgalModerator in reply to Riverchick

Hi Riverchick,

Let's hope that it would be a very rare thing for anyone to use a tracker for the wrong reasons. I think for the majority of people it would be used from love and concern. Thanks so much for your input.

Any suggestions of trackers or how to make sure the person would always have it on them ?

lell1
lell1 in reply to Riverchick

sew it in hanbdbag, or if it's a woman...

Callendersgal
CallendersgalModerator in reply to Riverchick

Hi Riverchick,

I'd suggest having a look online at the sorts of device that are available. Lell1's suggestions are good, or there are other trackers that are worn like a wristwatch.

Callendersgal
CallendersgalModerator in reply to Riverchick

Just in case you don't see the response 5855 has just posted that there are now shoe insole devices too!

Thanks so much callendersgirl all three are good ideas, I think if someone does wander off rather than get lost they might not take stuff with them , so something on them like a watch that can just stay on is good if the person will wear it and especially if it’s waterproof so it doesn’t need to be taken off for any reason.

I think it's a very useful aid to caring.

When you have a very vulnerable person who is enjoying a bit of independence it's a win win situation.

So many times I see police appeals for elderly who have got lost.

I would gladly have one for myself if the need arose.

Callendersgal
CallendersgalModerator in reply to Lynd

Thanks so much for your input Lynd. I completely agree about the win/win situation that a tracker provides and I think (or hope) that few people would abuse its use. I'm actually reassured that most people tend to agree that it's a good idea. The temptation was to say to my sister, 'yes, of course... go for it', but I'm really glad to hear some confirmation from your good self and others.

You can now get a Shoe insole with a tracker , I wish they were around when my mum was alive , but sadly she died last January 23rd of Gastro Entiritus and Pneumonia, but she was A Wonderer , luckily she was in a village where everyone knew her , but would really have been glad of them x

Callendersgal
CallendersgalModerator in reply to 5855

So sorry to hear of the loss of your mum 5855, but thanks so much for your input. I'd never heard of the shoe insole device. I'll pass this on to Riverchick, who was asking how trackers can be worn, in case she misses your response. That would be a very unobtrusive method and, in the main, shoes are generally worn without too much intervention being needed. Thanks again, and again, my condolences on your sad loss.

Riverchick
Riverchick in reply to 5855

Thanks for your input 5855 your in my thoughts x

Thank you Callendersgal , left a big gap in our lives and I have felt so lost with having so much time on my hands , but have a part-time job at a boarding school ,3 hrs in the evening Mon- Fri , but lost in the day time , I live in a very small village where we all know each other and everyone been great , but the nights are the worse , but I am getting better slowly , you can't look after someone 24/7 for 10 yrs without having some effect , and my friends take me out twice a month , promised Mum I'd have a wonderful life , I will get there ❤️

Callendersgal
CallendersgalModerator in reply to 5855

Hi again 5855,

I guess it's one day at a time with loss and grief, isn't it? And no two people's journey through it is ever the same. But please do remember we are here for you as a community. Whilst we might not have experienced grief just as you are experiencing, many of us have had similar feelings to yours, and we're all happy to support in any way we can. Doesn't have to be a big topic or even a comment. Just say 'hi' if you like, or let us know if you are feeling down.

On the other hand I'm quite sure you'll have experience and fellow-feeling after taking care of your beloved mum for so long, so do dive in and offer suggestions when you can, as with the excellent info. about shoe insole trackers! Very best wishes again, and I hope that time will bring you some solace.

My friend's husband has an GPS app on his mobile so he can be tracked and he wears a chunky bracelet that says something like ''if found please call xxx on xxxxxxxxxx''

He loves his bracelet which never comes off and his phone is kept in his jacket pocket, only coming out when my friend charges it up twice a week. Unfortunately his phone skills have all but disappeared so he never uses it himself. It literally is an over-sized tracker but not seen as such.

Callendersgal
CallendersgalModerator

Hi oldwomaninpain,

That really does cover it from all angles without being unduly obtrusive. And I guess that it’s got to be a good start just to make sure there’s a note in the pocket with some basic details and a contact number. Thanks and best wishes.

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