As per an estimate, 60 percent of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s tend to wander when they become confused or disoriented. They might be delusional, or they might be trying to evade a perceived threat like a jarring noise or the sight of a stranger. Restlessness and agitation are other common symptoms of the condition which can lead to wandering.
If they walk out of the home or the facility, they’re at the risk of losing their way back and becoming lost. When they’re lost, they might end up injuring themselves, which is why wandering poses a serious threat to their safety and well-being.
When 6 in every 10 patients wander,it’s not unwarranted for you as a caregiver to worry or feel anxious. Ideally, in order to prevent wandering, you should keep an eye on your loved one and ensure that they’re being monitored at all times. You can also install deadbolts on doors leading outside and stop signs on the doors. Even then, the risk of wandering isn’t completely eliminated, because as a caregiver you have other duties to attend to as well. And since you’re only human, you can’t stay up to keep watch all night.
Fortunately, investing in a wearable GPS gadget can be a rather straightforward and effective solution. These wearables come in the form of watches, shoes, pendants, and bracelets. And in the event your loved one does wander outside the house; they can be used to learn the whereabouts of the patient and locate them. If they’re active and spend some time outside the house every day, GPS assistance devices also allow you to keep an eye on them.
These gadgets can be programmed to alert you as soon as the wearer leaves a restricted area and often feature SOS buttons which can be life-savers, in case of emergencies. In the post that follows, we’ll be overviewing at some excellent GPS watches, along with a handy buying guide to help you make a better purchase.
If you’re looking for a smartwatch designed with a focus on seniors, one that can connect your loved one to an around-the-clock emergency response center, this smartwatch from Medical Guardian fits the bill.
With a single touch, the watch connects the wearer to an emergency response dispatcher, who can then either alert the authorities or their family members as they see fit. The caregiver can keep an eye on their whereabouts thanks to the WiFi functionality and GPS tracking embedded in the watch.
There’s also an integrated speaker and mic which serves for two-way communication. There’s a red SOS button on the side of the watch, which when pressed connects you to a live agent from their emergency response center.
It uses AT&T’s cellular network to make calls. And while the watch lacks automated fall protection, it does ship with support for a web and smartphone app that allows the caregivers to locate the wearer on a map. The app also allows you to view details like the duration and status of an alert, every time an emergency response is triggered. The same portal allows you to list several different contacts which should be notified when the response system can’t reach the user.
Aside from tracking and medical alerts, the smartwatch also allows you to create appointments and reminders. They can be useful if you want to be reminded to take meds or if you’d like to send and receive text messages directly from the watch. There’s a 1GHz processor sitting on this device combined with 512 MB of RAM, and it can last almost two days on a single charge
Priced at only $99, this watch itself is probably one of the more affordable picks out there, but you’re also asked to pay a hefty monthly subscription fee to avail of the emergency response services. So if you’re on a budget, we’d suggest skipping this one.
This smartwatch uses a micro SIM card and features smart tracking, geo-fencing, footprint record, an SOS button, a camera, remote audio feed, two-way voice communication, and a set counter. It works in tandem with a smartphone app to offer real-time tracking using data from Wi-Fi networks, GPS, and LBS Positioning. It supports 3G connectivity, so unlike 2G smartwatches, you don’t have to worry about this network going obsolete anytime soon.
The device logs the GPS data and stores it for up to 3 months, which can be useful if you have any trouble locating your loved one via the watch or if they forget a valuable item somewhere. The same app allows you to link multiple watches, so you can monitor all of them through a single hub. It also supports geofencing – a feature which notifies you as soon as the user steps outside a specified area.
Mounted on the side, is an SOS button that can be used to send out an alert in case of medical emergencies. Even though the watch is primarily designed for seniors, children can also use it. You get multiple color options for the wristband to pick from. You can also choose between traditional and digital readouts for the watch faces.
One caveat though, some users have complained that the battery life plummets after a few weeks of regular usage to a point where it can’t last through the day without needing a recharge.
Next up, we have another watch designed specifically with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients in mind. It uses 3G connectivity and either a web portal or a smartphone app linked to the network to track the patient in real-time. It also lets you listen in on the sounds or voices around the watch without alerting the wearer, thanks to the remote voice listening.
There are two ways the user can communicate through the watch: either by making or receiving a voice call or by using the emergency SOS button which immediately alerts the caregiver. You can pre-program up to 2 numbers which get alerted when the SOS distress signal is sent out. For better and more accurate tracking, it uses multiple networks to locate the wearer, namely, GPS, AGPS, WiFi, and finally, LBS positioning.
There’s also support for geofencing which restricts the user to a certain area and when they leave the ‘fenced’ area, you get a notification.
Looking for a GPS tracking watch that offers extended battery life, a gorgeous design, and functionality to boot? But for a price that won’t cost you a small fortune? If so, Amazfit Bip should be on your shortlist.
The design is polished yet rugged. It can go weeks before it needs a charge. And that’s particularly impressive because it features an always-on display that is readable even under direct sunlight. You can take this jaw-dropping battery life a step further if you disable the always-on heart monitor.
The manufacturer claims the battery can last you as long as 45 days on standby. It features multi-network support for tracking the device. Aside from GPS tracking, it can also track your heartbeat and display push notifications from your phone.
It is also water-resistant enough to be worn in the shower but it’s not exactly swim-friendly. The build is lightweight and comfy, and it is layered with Gorilla Glass for added protection. It’s customizable to a certain degree since the watch faces can be swapped for different ones.
This Guardian Watch from CPR is a location tracker, heart rate monitor, and a panic button all rolled into one. It offers smart tracking via GPS, LBS, and Wi-Fi, as well as basic GPS location tracking through the smartphone app. It keeps track of your heart rate via the heart rate monitor and alerts the caregiver if the heart rate drops below 30.
Speaking of which, the app links directly to the caregiver’s phone number and allows them to keep tabs on the patient’s location, lets them add a set of emergency contact numbers, and view the fitness logs.
Since it’s controlled by an IOS or Android app, you can install it on multiple devices. There’s also an emergency SOS button mounted on the side of the smartwatch which when pressed for longer than 3 seconds will automatically send out a distress signal and notify the caregiver. The watch itself is water-resistant and can survive getting submerged up to a meter deep.
It employs a SIM card for making and receiving phone calls and also supports geo-restrictions. What that essentially means is as soon as the wearer steps outside a pre-defined virtual restricted zone, the caregiver is notified which can go a long way in preventing wandering. This system is more commonly known as geo-fencing.
The watch can last up to two days on a single charge and comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Before you take the plunge, few factors demand your consideration and a few must-have features that the product you decide on should ship with. We’ll try and explore them briefly in this section of the post.
Why choose a GPS smartwatch?
Most seniors are averse to the idea of wearing a bulky help button since it’s expressive of their need for assistance. Some of them aren’t receptive to it because they don’t want to sacrifice their freedom. A smartwatch, in such cases, is the ideal solution. Not only do they offer the GPS tracking and SOS buttons commonly housed in medical alert systems, but they also provide the functionality of a regular smartwatch. They share the design with your average smartwatch, so nobody can tell that the watch is packing a medical alert system.
Do you need an around-the-clock emergency response system?
For added safety, you can opt for a smartwatch that can connect you to a live emergency response agent when you press the SOS button. They can follow the appropriate protocol and dispatch help. That being said, this system will incur additional monthly fees. If your budget won’t stretch to it, you can simply rely on your personal emergency contacts to summon help when in need.
Some smartwatches feature automated fall detection and send out a distress signal. If your loved one is prone to falling, this feature can prove invaluable. However, it is not uncommon for this feature to send out false alarms. For instance, if you regain balance before you fall.
The battery life of the smartwatch needs to be factored into your decision because if it can’t last at least a day of usage, it likely won’t be of much use to your senior loved one as a medical alert system. Shortlist products that promise at least two days of standby time. There are devices with extended battery lives that can hold a charge for days at an end.
If you’d like more accurate tracking in real-time, a smartwatch that features smart tracking would be the ideal solution. Aside from using basic GPS, they also make use of WiFi networks and LBS positioning. Some watches also offer the geofencing functionality to notify the caregiver whenever the wearer leaves a designated area.
Most smartwatches you’ll come across have an embedded mic and speaker which can be used to place and receive calls. The feature is vital because you’ll need to communicate verbally with the emergency personnel.
Wandering is a very real risk since a staggering number of seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s hurt themselves or worse when they lose their way and become lost. They are often lucid when they walk out, but impaired memory combined with confusion and disorientation clouds their judgment. In such an event, a tracker carried by such a person can help locate them instantly.