Track Me!

When you live with, and care for, a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s, you constantly fight an internal battle between restricting their activities, in order to protect them, and maintaining the normal level of activity, in order to exercise their mental acuity and permit their life style to continue with a degree of normality.

It is sometimes difficult to achieve one aim without impacting on the other. In order to exercise a degree of, unsupervised, activity, a carer feels as though they are relaxing the physical supervision that is called for, with the possibility of harm occurring to the person in their care.

The issue arises as to how a person can be safe when, for example, shopping or merely taking exercise in their immediate neighborhood.

Recently, in order to give me a degree of comfort in these two polarized matters, I bought a personal GPS Tracker that my good wife can hang around her neck, with her spectacles. This device is designed specifically for people suffering various forms of dementia.

Firstly it has a panic button which, when pressed, sends a Text message to, up to, three separate mobile phones. It also enables a two way conversation between the person wearing the device and those phones.

The device can be set up to detect if the wearer has a fall, at which point it will send an appropriate text message once again. One important feature is that the device transmits GPS coordinates to selected smart phones, or a PC or tablet, which displays the wearer’s location on a Google Maps screen.

It is also simple to set up a “Geo-Fence” which is a defined distance (say 100 metres) from the person monitoring the wearer, and send a text message if the wearer goes outside the “Fence” distance. You can activate a “Fall” function which will, once again, send a text message if the device detects that the wearer has sustained a fall, or has not moved for a predetermined period of time.

The device has many more functions, all of which are programmed simply by texting specific codes to it. The unit has a SIM card and communicates through the O2 network managed by GiffGaff.

The device is supplied by Personal GPS Trackers ( and needs a suitable “smartish” mobile phone in order to text instructions to the device, receive text messages from the device, and to display the wearers current location in Google Maps, as well as providing two way verbal communication.

I had a problem setting up the on-line tracking on my PC (and mirrored on my tablet). The companies Customer Services guy, Will, took my problem by the scruff of its neck and had it sorted in two shakes of a lambs tail (we do live among the fells after all). I have nothing but praise for the company and the support it provides.

As Maureen and I increase our familiarity with Alzheimer’s it will be interesting to see to what degree, Maureen’s freedom is aided by this device. Worry not, I will keep you informed.

P.S The device will be putting in an appearance at today’s Coffee Morning in the Village Hall.

John Keegan

3 thoughts on “Track Me!”

  1. Having had family members suffer from dementia I’m always interested in ways to improve the quality of life for sufferers and carers. This looks like a great device, John – many thanks for taking the time to promote it here.

    I note that you can use your own mobile SIM card, as the device isn’t locked to a network, but not a SIM that uses the ‘3’ network.

  2. Quite right Jim. Any SIM card except ‘3’. I don’t know why not ‘3’

    The maker promotes the GiffGaff SIM card, which they provide free of charge. That uses the O2 network and they do say that in some areas other SIM’s may provide better coverage.

    As it happens I have always used the O2 network and, personally, have no problem with coverage nowadays. I do remember however when you could get no signal, indoors in Kirkby, with O2 and many other networks. Things are much improved in that regard.

  3. I remember, in 1991, when I retired for the first time (it lasted seven months) a very close friend of mine, Wing Co. Mike Wood, brought a GPS, that had just returned after service, with the British Army, in Iraq, round to our house.

    Mike asked me if I could use some of my spare time to set up the unit to record the location of the runway at RAF Wyton, where Mike hangered his personal airplane, together with the location of the landing strip at The Pheasant at Keyston, which had a grass landing strip to which we would fly for a meal on a Sunday.

    To cut a long story short, I did what Mile asked. The interesting thing, in 1991, was that in any location I went to in Cambs the GPS could only ever see two satellites. The significance of that is that you need at least three satellites in order to get location and ALTITUDE data.

    Having recently acquired a personal GPS Tracker I now find that in a typical location in our part of the world the GPS can see either 5 or 6 satellites. The result is that, when I was sat in Plato’s, consuming Pinot Grigo, and tracking Maureen about her shopping at the same time, the display on Google Maps was no more than some 20ft wrong.

    The GPS technology has proceeded in leaps and bounds since 1991 but the significant change is in the number of satellites that are now in geostationary orbit over our country enhancing the accuracy that we have come to rely on.

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