The most important part of a caregiver's job is to keep an elderly loved one safe. Some caregivers have elderly loved ones who are prone to wandering, especially those with dementia or other diseases. For example, a diabetic's low blood sugars may cause episodes of confusion causing the person to wander. Whatever the cause, wandering is dangerous for the elderly and worrisome for caregivers.
Now there is a new option for monitoring loved ones' locations, even from afar. SafeTracks, a Canadian-based GPS tracking system, includes the necessary equipment and works to provide state-of-the-art monitoring for caregivers. For caregivers of seniors who could benefit from monitoring but who do not want or need round-the-clock supervision, SafeTracks might be ideal.
What SafeTracks Does
SafeTracks is designed to provide caregivers with a safe way to monitor their loved ones in case of an emergency. As caregivers of seniors with dementia often know firsthand, the dangers of a loved one wandering and becoming lost are real. The consequences can be deadly. SafeTracks responds to this need with technology that pairs with smartphones and global positioning system (GPS) technology to find those who might have wandered. Caregivers can set up "invisible" fences that notify them if an elderly loved one leaves the house.
Such a notification can prompt the caregiver to check on the person. All might be well. The elderly person may just be making a trip to the corner and back for exercise. Yet SafeTracks keeps caregivers informed, in case a trip to the corner results in a missing person. Voice connections are available too, which can help establish where the elderly loved one is and whether or not the person is safe. There is no need to guess at a location or purpose for going out. Certain triggers in the technology will also notify emergency personnel.
There are several different kinds of SafeTracks monitoring devices. The most familiar types of consumers would be a wristwatch-type device and one that looks similar to a mobile phone. Most unique is the GPS "SmartSole," which is placed inside a shoe insert and carried with the person being tracked. Available features differ by the type of device used. The SmartSoles have a battery that lasts for three days before needing to be recharged. This makes it ideal for caregivers who cannot visit every day.
Why Electronic Monitoring?
For some caregivers, being present round-the-clock simply is not possible. In addition to this, even caregivers who are present 24/7 cannot be by the side of a wander-prone senior at all times. Electronic monitoring systems can help prevent wandering and also immediately locate seniors who meander off the beaten track. Technology offers several sophisticated, unobtrusive ways of doing so via cell phone trackers, wristwatch or ankle strap devices, and in-home security cameras.
How to Begin
The first step toward establishing successful and safe caregiving practices is meeting with the patient and his or her doctor(s). Asking for safety recommendations, taking diligent notes, and then discussing, at length, what the elderly loved one needs and prefers all lay the groundwork for safety. Some seniors value their privacy and would like electronic monitoring because it allows them to be safe but also alone. Others might want an additional level of security even if they live in a facility. Yet others might not enjoy the physical presence of an electronic monitoring device. The latter is an important consideration, as people have privacy rights when it comes to being monitored. Overall, it is all about what works for the elderly loved one and his or her caregivers, taking into account all health risks assessments by physicians.
Doing One's Homework
After everyone agrees with the idea of an electronic monitoring system, it pays to do research. Not every system, despite great gadgets or a high price, is the right one. Price, longevity, and reviews, both online and through word-of-mouth, are important considerations. Company representatives should be able to provide research and proof of their products' track records. They should also provide information on customer support or warranties in case device breaks. The Better Business Bureau or equivalent organization is a good guide to a company's viability. Knowing the facts before investing in a product can help keep an elderly loved one safer and happier for longer.
Calculating All the Costs
Some electronic monitoring systems come with monthly or yearly fees for use. Periodic re-evaluation may show that there is no reason to continue paying for a system that is unsatisfactory or not useful. Upgrades to more intense monitoring or a more precise device is one solution, as is overtime for paid caregivers. There are many options.
Monitoring an elderly patient is a process rather than a one-off product purchase. Peace of mind for caregivers as well as the patient's safety and happiness are the most important commodities such devices offer.
Brewster, Victoria. (August 17, 2015). A Company with a Focus on Canadians: SafeTracks GPS Canada Inc. Northern MSW. Available at https://northernmsw.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/a-company-with-a-focus-on-canadians-safe-tracks-gps-canada-inc/. Retrieved September 25, 2016.
SafeTracks. About Us. Available at http://www.safetracksgps.ca/site/about_us. Retrieved September 25, 2016.