We all know that older adults are at an increased risk of developing cognitive impairments like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Dementia, often causing them to struggle with memory loss and muscle weakness. Aging adults living with these impairments may get confused while completing simple tasks and wander off, losing track of where they’ve gone.
This can make them more likely to trip and fall, putting them in physical danger in what is, to them, an unfamiliar environment. This can be a concern for many of us who care for our loved ones, worrying they could wander off and hurt themselves.
In today’s digital world, many technologies are available to help give us peace of mind about our loved ones’ safety. One technology many families are using to help care for their older loved ones is geotracking devices.
Born from the advances of GPS technology, geotrackers are simple, cost-effective, undetectable ways of monitoring our loved ones from a distance. This allows them to live as independently as possible while still under the guidance of a watchful eye. Remember to use these with your parent’s permission, as there may be stalker laws which prohibit tracking an independent adult without their knowledge or permission.
Smart Technology: Watches & Phones
Many companies place geotracking technology in smart devices like phones and watches, allowing caregivers to better track their aging loved ones through everyday objects. Smart technology geotracking devices can keep us connected while giving us peace of mind knowing that they are safe.
- GPS locator watches may include geofencing technology that allows us to program “safe zones” and distance ranges into them. When an elderly parent wanders outside of these zones, we can receive an alert and check on them.
- Many GPS watches can be monitored by smartphone apps, allowing us to receive notifications as frequently as needed.
- GPS watches, and smartphone apps for geotracking often come with a way for a loved one to send an SOS message quickly and easily to contacts linked in their account, allowing them to alert us when they need assistance.
- Some smartphones are built for older adults! Consider investing in the Jitterbug for a loved one – it features large icon apps, geotracking, and more to promote a loved one’s safety.
If our aging parents aren’t technologically savvy or have difficulty using devices, we can invest in tools that attach to our their clothing for effective, safe location monitoring.
- Some devices like the AngelSense can be attached to clothing by a caregiver for quick, easy tracking. Attach this item to a an aging parents favorite shirt or pair of pants, and you can easily find them in an emergency.
- Shoes and insoles have been developed with tracking technology. Used by many runners, these devices can provide live updates to a loved one’s location.
- Consider sewing a tracking device into a purse, wallet, or clothing. Tools like the iTraq are small, water-resistant, and even come with fall detection technology, allowing us to better protect our loved ones from a medical emergency.
Medical Alert Devices
A staple for many caregivers, medical alert devices can have built-in tracking technology, allowing for loved ones and their caregivers to feel a greater sense of security knowing help is just a button away.
- Some devices, like the Medical Guardian Freedom Guardian, are multifunctional and fashionable. Unlike many clunkier medical alert systems, this one can be worn like a watch and allows users to press a single button for emergency assistance. Other applications like calendar alerts, reminders, and more are also available on this device.
- Other medical alert devices are small pendants that can be put in the pockets of a loved one’s clothing to track them. Popular tools like Mindme and Pocketfinder allow for loved ones to be followed in real-time.
- If we fear a loved one may remove tracking devices or forget to put them on, we can consider a medical alert system like Project Lifesaver. When this device is worn around the ankle, it can track a loved one and report their location to caregivers periodically.
Motion Alarm Kits
Motion alarm systems are simple, easy ways to track a loved one and intervene when they wander.
- Most motion alarms can be clipped onto a belt or placed in a vehicle, allowing a loved one to move around without restriction.
- Alarms are silent, notifying caregivers of wandering without startling the care recipient.
- Motion alarms can monitor for falls, sending out SOS messages when a loved one is hurt, so they don’t have to search for a pendant or button on a device to ask for help.
No matter how much you care for your loved one, the feeling of guilt is common. The burden of guilt will only make your job that much harder. Let’s unpack some sources of caregiver guilt and ways to overcome them.