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How Can Locating Technology Help?

Helping to keep people with dementia safe in their homes and communities sometimes requires the use of tools like locating technologies.

Devices like GPS trackers, radio frequency trackers, door sensors/alarms or cell phones can help to fulfill two main needs:

  1. Locating a person with dementia who is lost or is at risk of becoming lost
  2. Providing greater independence to a person with dementia who wishes to go out alone but may become lost

There are benefits and drawbacks to using locating technologies. Some people with dementia may prefer the personal freedom and safety they provide, while giving their caregivers peace of mind. Others may feel that locating technologies are an invasion of privacy. Factors like cost, ease of use, and tracking limitations may provide other challenges to using locating technologies.

Read below to learn more about locating technology options, and click Learn More to visit an external product site that will allow you to view locating technologies from choice vendors – learn about available devices, compare products, and find out which one might be right for you or the person with dementia that you’re supporting.

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home

Low Risk

Safe Environment

At Home, travelling with known carer, day program.
No technology needed at this stage

No technology is needed at this time, but it’s important to have a plan for the future. What agreements can be made about how the person with dementia can remain active in their community while acknowledging that their risk of going missing may change? Now is a great time to have that conversation.

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phone

Risk Level 1

Found safe/Post-wandering

Found and connected to primary caregiver. Goes out with carer.

Technologies that can be used at this stage include Medic Alert.

 

Technologies that can be used at this time include a cell phone or MedicAlert.

With MedicAlert, critical medical information and a hotline number is engraved on an ID bearing the MedicAlert symbol recognized by emergency responders. When the hotline number is called, 24-hour Emergency Hotline specialists immediately notify caregivers or family to let them know the situation and location of the member.

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bell

Risk Level 2

Talk of leaving/Anxious

Sundowning period (or time of day with most agitated energy).
Technologies include door sensor or alarm and video surveillance.

Technologies that can be used at this time include door sensors/alarms or video surveillance.

Door sensors or alarms are placed on or near a particular door, and will send out an alarm when the individual has opened the door. Pressure mats will send out an alarm when the individual is out of their bed or leaving the room. Video surveillance can send out an alarm when the individual is within a set location.

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Risk Level 3

Missing/Wandering

High risk period, search and rescue, possible life threatening.

Technologies that can be used include tracking device and first responders.

Technologies that can be used at this time include tracking devices (i.e. GPS, radio frequency, bluetooth) and first responders.

Global Positioning System (GPS) identify a person’s location using a transmitter that sends a signal to a network of telecommunications satellites, which then relays the signal through mobile phone networks to a carer’s computer or mobile device, or to a call centre. Because they use satellites, GPS devices can locate a person across large areas, theoretically anywhere on earth that a satellite signal can reach. GPS devices can also be used to build virtual boundaries or “geofences” which trigger a notification if the user goes outside a designated safe area (CADTH, 2016).

Radio Frequency (RF) identifies a person’s location using a transmitter that emits radio waves, which can be picked up by an antenna. Compared to GPS, the nature of radio waves limits their use to relatively small geographic areas (CADTH, 2016).

Bluetooth: Provides supplemental location when GPS signals are not available. Some devices enable users to assign a specific name such as front door to provide textual location information.

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You may like to learn more about “Interacting with a person with dementia who may be lost” in one of our four – 15 minute Online Learning modules

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