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Tracking bracelets – what are the options?

When you care for someone with Alzheimer's or dementia, the fear of them wandering off is a real problem. Find out about tracking bracelets.

As you are no doubt already well aware, dementia and Alzheimer’s severely affect a person’s spatial memory. Places a person has cherished all their life suddenly become unrecognisable. This presents a serious problem for anyone caring for a person with Alzheimer’s, as they live with the constant dread of them wandering off, getting lost and ending up in potentially dangerous situations.

Thanks to technological advances, however, this need no longer present a problem, as the variety of tracking bracelets currently available enable you to keep your loved ones out of harm’s way. These devices allow you to track their movements, so that you can act immediately if you notice they’re starting to wander.

GPS tracking bracelets

The longest standing and most widely used tracking devices are GPS tracking bracelets. These devices are worn on the wrist and work using the famous satellite-based positioning system. The family member or carer can keep track of their loved one at all times by linking the device to their computer, mobile or tablet.

If the person strays too far from a determined point, an alarm is triggered on the carer’s telephone or tablet. The same alarm will ring to alert the carer when the device’s battery is running low. Some of the more advanced bracelets allow you to program in up to four different telephone numbers - thereby ensuring there’s always someone on hand to respond in case of an emergency.

GPS tracking bracelets are particularly suited to people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s who are still relatively self-sufficient - people who enjoy going on walks on their own, for example. The bracelets allow for greater freedom and an improved quality of life without compromising their safety. They also afford the carer peace of mind, as they’re not constantly worrying about what they’re up to.

In addition to the wrist bracelets, there are a variety of similar alternatives that can be worn on the forearm, ankle or inside clothing (i.e. in a pocket or shoe). For anyone in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s - those needing constant supervision - these GPS bracelets may prove less effective, although they should, at the very least, help stop them from trying to ‘break out’ of their nursing home. 

Alternative tracking devices

GPS is a satellite-based positioning system that relies on an uninterrupted communication with orbiting satellites. This means that it doesn’t work inside buildings and even, on occasions, in highly built-up or wooded areas. Frequent bad weather can also interfere with the device’s functioning. Radio frequency tracking bracelets on the other hand, while using much older technology, are not affected by the same limitations. These devices are often used in nursing homes.

Bluetooth tracking devices are an interesting option when you need to keep an eye on someone living under the same roof as you or in some other relatively confined space. Bluetooth trackers are generally cheaper than their GPS counterpart and are particularly useful when the individual in question lives in a larger property (a country house for example). Unfortunately their operating range is limited to around 100 metres, which means they are ineffective when your loved one wanders further afield.

Alzheimer's, Wellbeing, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Technology, Psychological aspects, Social Life

Author: Purificación Salgado, Journalist

Last Modification: January 15, 2017

© People Who Global, iStock.com

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