The use of global positioning systems in promoting safer walking for people with dementia

Brian McKinstry*, Aziz Sheikh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

There are about 5 million people in Europe who have dementia, approximately half of whom need daily care. A common reason why dementia sufferers are admitted to long-term care is because of "wandering", i.e. leaving home without informing a carer, thereby potentially putting themselves at risk. Common methods of managing wandering include locking doors or alerting carers when a door is opened. A new method of managing wandering is by using electronic location devices. These depend on the satellite-based global positioning system (GPS). People can wear a location device in the form of a watch or pendant, or carry it like a mobile phone. This offers affected individuals the possibility of safe walking, with the reassurance that they can be found quickly if lost. However, it is not known how effective this method is and its use raises questions about safety and individual civil liberties. GPS location is a potentially useful method of managing wandering in dementia and there is considerable pressure on caregivers from commercial organisations to adopt the technique. Research is therefore required to determine which people are best suited for such devices, how effective they are in practice and what effect they have on important outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-292
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Telemedicine and Telecare
Volume19
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sep 2013

Keywords

  • ELECTRONIC TRACKING
  • ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
  • BEHAVIOR
  • DISEASE

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