GPS tracking devices being developed to monitor people with dementia in care homes
This sounded interesting to me when I read the headline, having spent quite a lot of time researching tracking people with special needs such as dementia. The problem I found though was mostly not in the home. Yes people have falls, my own grandmother who lived in her own home until she was 98, fell and broke her hip at around 97 and was on the bathroom floor for 2 days over the weekend before her caregiver found her, but in rest homes and retirement villages the main thing they need help with is when people leave. In her case what she needed was a drop sensor.
The most common problems is if people are moved out of their comfort zone, for example they already have dementia when they move into a home. They get disoriented and tell themselves that they are in a strange place. They will then often walk, or in many cases even hop in a taxi. I knew of one gentleman who hopped into a taxi 6 or 7 times over a few months and took a taxi to his old home 80 miles away!
People with dementia still know things instinctively about themselves. Give them a device that doesn’t look like something they would wear like a cheap looking watch or RF bracelet and you’ll be faced with that’s not mine. As I have pointed out in many blogs, the RF systems are old school and rarely lead to finding a person. They require SAR teams carrying directional yagi aerials and only have a range of less an a mile.
So yes, we need low cost trackers, but as for systems inside a premises, there are so many easy solutions that have been around for years in places like hotels and hospitals. Maybe I have missed the point, this is a story and the product will sell, but it’s not compelling. On the other hand there is a massive problem out there, compounded significantly by the aging of the baby boomers and I still haven’t seen an effective, usable, affordable to the masses solution.
Pretty soon this will result in massive costs to care givers, police, rest homes and retirement villages, hospitals and communities because along with the growing number of aged people, the number with health problems is growing proportionally.