Apps Help Keep a Virtual Eye on Dementia Patients

July 19, 2013

 

Tracking Alzheimer's patients with GPS and other tools may be an option

Tracking Alzheimer’s patients with GPS and other tools may be an option

Often, a caregiver juggles with the need for constant oversight of a dementia patient versus allowing their loved one a certain degree of independence and freedom.  Depending upon their degree of awareness, some dementia sufferers can be left unattended for brief periods of time.

Today’s technology allows flexibility and peace of mind for the caregiver and independence for the aging parent by introducing tracking options for the family.

Smart phones and web applications, or apps, allow caregivers to keep a virtual eye on their loved ones.

Most of these apps use a variation on the GPS navigation program called a LBS, or location-based mapping service. Place the LBS in an object, such as a cell phone, pager, or wristband, which the person with dementia carries around, and the LBS will send out a signal that tracks back to the app, allowing you to locate your patient.

Many apps offer features beyond just location services.  For example, Comfort Zone, an app created by the Alzheimer’s Association, enables the user to define certain boundaries; if the dementia patient goes outside of these boundaries, the app sends an alert to the user.

Naturally, there are limitations to a LBS apps’ usefulness; for example, these apps tend to be more accurate when the subject is outdoors rather than inside, and there is usually a delay in relaying information.  Still, if you are caring for a dementia sufferer who gets around with some degree of independence, you may want to investigate whether an app would improve both your own and your loved one’s quality of life and peace of mind.

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