Apps can monitor dementia patients
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By Julie Ann Anderson  June 14, 2013 12:00 am

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 it 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. This has been seen all too often lately. 

If you watch the news, you have seen a rise in silver alerts being broadcasted searching for wandering dementia patients. Some have been found safe while others haven’t been so fortunate.

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.

  Cell phone may be used to transmit location information

 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.

On a side note, I would like to congratulate all the graduating students in our communities. Much success and happiness to you all. You have it in you, so now go out and make a positive impact in our world.

Julie Ann Anderson is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park; mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors and caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.

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