An elderly lady wearing a GPS tracking smartwatch.

GPS Tracking for Seniors: An Effective Way to Keep Track of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Patients

What Is GPS Tracking for Seniors?

Alzheimer’s and dementia are both realities in this world that we may not always want to talk about. Maybe you have elderly parents who have been diagnosed with one of these diseases or you yourself are concerned that this could become a reality in your own life. With the increased confusion that comes along with these conditions, it means that the chances of you or a loved one becoming lost increases. But what can we do to find our loved one or our own way home? GPS tracking for seniors is one of the best answers to that question.

What Is GPS Tracking?

GPS Tracking is used to pinpoint the location of a place, a vehicle, a person or a pet. GPS stands for Global Positioning System. These days, they generally use a satellite signal to send the geolocation of the device to itself or another device.

GPS was originally used by NASA in order to track the movements of satellites in the late 1950s. In the 1960s, the U.S. Navy used GPS to track submarines carrying missiles. Then in the 1970s, the Department of Defence decided they wanted a wide range GPS networks available through satellites. The project was completed in 1993, which was when GPS started to be used for more than just military projects.

NASA states on their website that “Today, GPS is a multi-use, space-based radionavigation system owned by the US Government and operated by the United States Air Force to meet national defense, homeland security, civil, commercial, and scientific needs.”

You have probably used your smartphone or the navigation in your car in order to get to a location you have never been to before. It’s also possible that you have watched a documentary where scientists tag a wild animal to track its location. Maybe you even use a fitness tracker that tells you how far you have walked in one day. All of these are examples of using GPS tracking.

Most important of all though, would be that you or a loved one can wear a GPS tracking device in order to stay safe. They have actually become quite commonly used in elderly care. They generally notify a caretaker if the wearer has moved into an unexpected place. They also allow the wearer to notify the caretaker if they are lost and need help.

Benefits to GPS Tracking

There are some really big benefits to wearing a GPS tracking device. They offer the wearer and the caretaker peace of mind knowing that the wearer can always be located as long as they are wearing the device. The device can pinpoint the location within 16 feet to 33 feet. Some of the devices offer a button that connects the wearer to their care person via phone and they can speak through the device. Emergency notifications can be sent through the emergency button that many devices have. Finally, a GPS tracker gives the wearer added safety.

With all of that said, there are still some cons to GPS trackers. One would be that some GPS trackers are not wearable devices, meaning that it can be easy for the person using it to forget to bring it. Sometimes people even forget to put on wearable devices. The wearer may have concerns that their care person can become overbearing or controlling. Finally, some caregiving professionals have voiced their concern that GPS tracking devices can take away the wearers own self-governance. This is a concern brought up in a study published in the June 2009 issue of The British Journal of Social Work.

I believe that the advantages to wearing a GPS tracker, especially ones with an “emergency” button, really outweigh the disadvantages. Although, the wishes of the person that will be wearing the device should always be top of mind.

What Are the Best GPS Tracking Devices?

There’s an array of different GPS tracking devices that can be worn by a senior and some are better than others. From things like fitness watches to shoe inserts, we have top five picks of the most effective GPS tracking devices. We’ve also provided you with some examples of brands.

GPS Tracker Jewelry

GPS tracking jewelry is a great style of device to wear. These trackers are smaller and trendy, but they still include features like an emergency button to notify caretakers if the wearer needs help. This is the perfect option for someone who does not like wearing something clunky like a watch. You can get this type of GPS tracker in necklace and bracelet styles. We really like the look of the Samber Micro GPS Tracker Necklace.

Clothing Attached GPS

Clothing attached GPS products are useful because most of them can only be attached and removed by the caretaker, not the wearer. This is especially good for people who are prone to confusion. One of the most popular clothing attached GPS devices would be AngelSense. It provides everything from daily routes taken by the wearer to the ability for the caretaker to listen in on what is happening around the wearer.

GPS Shoe Insert

Shoe inserts simply fit into the wearers shoes and can be tracked by a tablet, smartphone, or online. The insert is charged and then placed into the shoe where it uploads the wearers location. This is especially good if the wearer is prone to getting lost or confused or has a condition that makes them susceptible to wandering, like Alzheimer’s or dementia. The most popular GPS shoe insert is SmartSole from GTX.

GPS Smartwatch

There are smartwatches that are made specifically for GPS tracking. They look like any other smart watch but offer things like a help button that contacts a 24/7 emergency service and text messaging. The Freedom Guardian smartwatch by Medical Guardian has to be the Rolls Royce of GPS smartwatches.

Keychain GPS

Keychain GPS devices are exactly that: keychains. They locate whatever they are attached too. They have been used for tracking luggage, important items and even people. These are a more basic GPS option. They do not offer the panic button that the above-mentioned products do and since they are not attached to you, they can be easy to forget.