According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 6 in 10 people suffering from dementia will wander. “Anyone who has memory problems and is able to walk is at risk for wandering,” they report. “Even in the early stages of dementia, a person can become disoriented or confused for a period of time.”
If your patient or loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia, as the disease progresses, they may begin to wander into busy streets, get lost during severe weather or find themselves in other equally compromising situations. As a caregiver, wandering is one of the most difficult challenges in keeping your patient or loved one safe.
Fortunately, evolving technology in wearable tracking devices provide caregivers assistance in facing this challenge. Wearable devices balance giving your patient or loved one a sense of independence while also keeping them safe.
Alerting the caregiver
First, an alert system for caregivers. A 15-year-old young man from New York invented a sock that alerted him every time his grandfather got out of bed. His technology received an award at the Google Science Fair, and he intends to do further development to bring his product to market. Other options include using smart home technology to send a text message alert when someone leaves the home or facility. Motion sensors can detect where the person is located on the premise and uses an app to send alerts based on movements.
Tracking the wearer
Another category of wearables is tracking devices. These usually come in the form of a wristband or similar device worn on the body. Some devices, such as the PAL from Project Lifesaver, look like a normal wristwatch. These devices track the wearer’s location and allow a caregiver to see where their patient or loved one is.
Other devices, such as the GPS Smart Sole, are inserted into a shoe, which offers the wearer some degree of anonymity since it’s not worn on the wrist or ankle.
The iTraqTag also looks inconspicuous and can fit in a wallet. It uses cell phone towers to triangulate a position, and can be used anywhere in the world. The device also uses wireless charging, so it can be easily recharged for repeated use.
Ultimately, no technology today can prevent someone from wandering, and nothing can replace one-on-one care. But as technology continues to advance, caregivers will have the peace of mind to know where their patients and loved ones are and how to keep them safe.
This article was previously published on Caring Conversations and republished here with permission.