GPS trackers can save the lives of people with dementia

April 17, 2018

People with dementia should have access to location-finding devices—like GPS trackers—so that family caregivers and the police can locate the person in an emergency if they get lost, according to a new study by the University of Southampton.

Of the half- million people in the U.K. with dementia who live in their own homes, more than 40% will get lost at some point, and about 25,000 will get lost repeatedly, doubling their risk of admission to long-term care. Sadly, half of all those who go missing repeatedly for more than 24 hours die or are seriously injured.

But researchers believe that introducing devices at a time when a person with dementia is able to appreciate the benefits and consequences of carrying the device, and at a time that will allow them to get used to using the device so it becomes a habit, could save lives.

The study, which is being presented in a report to the Alzheimer’s Society, brought people with dementia, their families and caregivers together with police officers, charities, and researchers, to assess the need and impact GPS trackers could have on people’s lives.

Part of the study involved talking with people with dementia whilst they were out walking in the community using their location-finding device, as well as sit-down interviews with family caregivers.

Using GPS technology was viewed as an acceptable adaptation to aid location for people with dementia, their family caregivers and the police, the report says.

The report recommends that individuals and families living with dementia get to know their community influencers; this might be Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), as they play a vital role in supporting people with dementia to stay safe in the community. Also, PCSOs should receive more in-depth training about dementia and how to support people with the condition and their family carers.

Medical Xpress has the full story

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