Website helps consumers choose technologies that can locate loved ones with dementia who wander
A unique online resource that allows consumers to find the right locator device for loved ones with dementia who may wander has been launched through the support of AGE-WELL and the Alzheimer Society of Ontario.
The Consumer Guideline for Locator Technologies website offers caregivers a level playing field to compare GPS-based locator devices and other types of tracking technologies. The site can be used to determine which device best meets the needs of an individual with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia who is at risk of becoming lost.
“The most frequently asked question of the Alzheimer Society of Ontario relates to these devices,” says Dr. Lili Liu, lead investigator for the project and chair of Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta.
“Until now, there has been no source for consumers to consistently compare the features of locator devices. This is a market that is booming. Within the next three to five years, we are going to see an exponential increase in demand for these devices and information about them.”
Canadian statistics on dementia and wandering make a compelling case for high-quality consumer information on these types of solutions.
In 2011, 747,000 people in Canada were reported to have some form of dementia, according to Statistics Canada. In 2010, the number of people reported missing due to wandering was 1,365 and by 2014, the number jumped to 1,528. And these statistics reflect only reported cases.
The Alzheimer’s Society says that 60 per cent of people with dementia-related memory problems become lost at some point. A person with Alzheimer’s disease who is lost for more than 12 hours has a 50 per cent chance of being injured or dying.
The new site, which is part of the Alzheimer Society of Ontario’s Finding Your Way® program, funded partially by the Province of Ontario, provides categorized, user-friendly and easy to compare information on locator devices. “We have established a set of consistent parameters. Vendors then go online, share their information and keep it updated,” explains Dr. Liu. Consumers are encouraged to rate locator devices and share their reviews.
“Many families are struggling not knowing where to invest with regard to this technology. The new website is a great start for showcasing solutions that are out there,” says Ron B., an advisor on the project who has used more than half a dozen different locator devices in caring for his father, who has lived with Alzheimer’s for the past decade.
The Consumer Guideline for Locator Technologies is the result of an AGE-WELL-Alzheimer’s Society of Ontario Working Group that was established and co-funded by the two organizations, and a 2015 study by Dr. Liu’s team at the University of Alberta and Alberta Health Services on the usability of GPS locators. A key finding of the study was that among numerous benefits—from safety to cost savings in health care and among first responders—locator devices provide peace of mind for caregivers.
Visit the website at: https://tech.findingyourwayontario.ca