Many caregivers struggle with the question of how much independence to grant dementia patients. Some dementia sufferers, of course, have advanced cases that require constant monitoring, but others can be left alone for extended periods of time and allowed varying degrees of freedom.
That freedom and independence can be very important to a person with dementia and can have a positive impact on his or her outlook, but may come at a cost for a caregiver, who may worry – with good cause – that the loved one may take a walk, get disoriented, and become lost.
Such caregivers may want to consider utilizing modern tracking technology. There are a number of web applications (apps, for short) that can be used to keep a virtual eye on people.
Most of these apps use a variation on the GPS navigation program called an 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 an 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.