Going down the GPS route

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by LynneMcV, Aug 17, 2015.

  1. LynneMcV

    LynneMcV Volunteer Moderator

    May 9, 2012
    south-east London
    My husband has been fixated on having to make a journey for the past four days.

    He doesn't know where, he just has this overwhelming belief that someone is waiting somewhere to give him some money. He keeps going on about finding a secret path to a bridge, down a dip and near a brook. He is getting increasingly frustrated with himself (and me) for not knowing where the place is and who will be there - or even why they would have money to give him.

    He has been on several walks to find this place. Each time he has returned within an hour but I am becoming increasingly concerned that he will venture into unknown territory and get lost, and that I'll have no idea where to find him.

    A couple of years back we talked about the use of GPS tracking and he was in favour of such a thing being used for him if he started to wander.

    I believe we are now at that stage, or very close to it, so today I signed up for the service.

    I don't know how long the equipment will take to arrive but the sooner the better. It will free him up to go out as and when he wants, and if he is gone a long time, it will enable us to know roughly where he is so we can go and meet him if necessary.

    I do hope this fixation will go soon though. It's ironic that the things we want our loved ones to remember seldom are - but they cling on for dear life to the stuff we'd like them to forget.

    I've tried all sorts of distractions but he picks back up right from where he left off every time!
  2. JLSW

    JLSW Registered User

    Jul 23, 2015
    It's tough when the person with dementia is so fixated on something that their belief or reasoning is unshakeable. It must be very frustrating for you both.

    In terms of GPS, I have it for my grandfather and we have set up a virtual boundary around his neighbourhood (using coordinates) so that if he wanders out of the area / crosses a boundary we get alerted. It means he still has the 'freedom' to go out but not too far so that he strays into unknown places.

    I suppose we try anything to ensure our loved ones safety without impinging too much on their lives.

    Good luck
  3. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    Yes, sadly that Sums it up what this disease does to our love one brains.

    Hope GPS arrives soon.

    Only advice I can give is . Just keep reminding yourself it's not your husband doing this it's the disease .
    In those momenets of reputation of this stage your husband in .
    It will pass.
    Take care hope you get some help with downtime for yourself to help yourself to keep on looking after your husband :)
  4. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    Lynne if you have it linked to your smart phone I would also suggest linking it to the phone of one or two family members or friends. Then if your phone lets you down you can get his location from them.
  5. sinkhole

    sinkhole Registered User

    Jan 28, 2015
    Please also consider adding a short range tracking device to the GPS tracker. I use the Loc8tor tags.

    A GPS tracker will give you a position within a few metres at best outside. You can end up getting some very misleading positions when the tracker is indoors or cannot get a good view of the satellites and then the accuracy could be out by as much as 50 metres. A short range RFID tracker will only work up to 30 metres or so, but will allow you to home in find the location exactly.
  6. LynneMcV

    LynneMcV Volunteer Moderator

    May 9, 2012
    south-east London
    Thanks for the extra tips and advice offered here - definitely things I'll be looking into! Much appreciated.
  7. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    Couldn't you just put a tracker on his mobile phone I'm sure you can download a free app mean to track your children, assuming of course he has a mobile and can be relied on to take it with him.
    To be honest if he's got to the "secret path" stage I'd be concerned about him going out alone. He'd be easy prey to being take advantage of it he came across someone dodgy who recognised his symptoms, certainly I wouldn't let him take any amounts of cash, credit or debit cards when he goes out on one of his walks.
  8. LynneMcV

    LynneMcV Volunteer Moderator

    May 9, 2012
    south-east London
    Hi Kevini - unfortunately he refuses to take a phone around any more - it's been a long time since he has been able to use one. I did set his phone up with a direct SOS link to mine at one time, but he forgets about the button almost straight away - so we weren't getting anywhere with that one either.

    He has no credit cards and I hold his both his bank cards. Fortunately he has been happy with that arrangement right from the start of being diagnosed. He is quite content for me to handle all the finances. He usually has a maximum of £10 on him in case he wants to pop into a shop and buy something small.

    The only items he has on him are his Alzheimer's help card (yes, I worry that it might flag him up to the wrong people, but I would worry more if he didn't have something on him to help genuine people, including the police, get him home or contact me).

    It's a difficult situation because in many ways he is still greatly aware of everything and has always loved to take a walk alone. I don't want to restrict his ability to go out and to be honest, it would be impossible to stop him if he set his mind to it.

    So far he keeps reasonably close to home but I am concerned that if this thought persists with him he may venture further - hence my decision today to order the GPS equipment. I don't know if it is the best one, but I know that it is one used by a UK police force to help find missing folk with dementia in their area - so I think it will do the trick.

    As I understand it, it mainly involves logging onto a website with a pin number and you can automatically see where the person is - so as well as me checking on him from home or work, it will also be easy for our grown up son and daughter to use should he disappear for too long too.

    I can but give it a go and see how we get along before deciding if we need to look at any other approach to the situation. Fingers-crossed this will be enough, at least for now :)
  9. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    Hi, Lynne, I had one other thought for you. I know you asked specifically about GPS trackers, but I recall some other threads on the topic of family members who wander, and there is another strategy I read about.

    I can't recall the exact company or product name, but IIRC, some people use a home security system to alert them when a particular door is opened. I realize that a door being opened doesn't necessarily mean that anyone goes in or out of it, but if you are not home (at work, errands, et cetera) and this information would be helpful, it's something to consider. I believe you can set things up so that you would receive a call or a text message. Perhaps that would be helpful, in knowing that your husband has possibly left the house?

    It's just so difficult to know what to do and I hope you find something helpful. Wandering can be a very challenging behaviour to deal with. My mother, unknown to me, was a wanderer (I lived 100 miles away) and the only way I found out was when she went out, inadequately dressed for the cold, and was injured. In her case, it worked out for the best as she was rescued by a Good Samaritan and this incident prompted an evaluation that got her into a care home, which was where she needed to be. But it was scary!
  10. LynneMcV

    LynneMcV Volunteer Moderator

    May 9, 2012
    south-east London
    Thanks Amy,

    That's definitely something I would consider if night time wandering became an issue.

    We are in a fortunate situation in many ways because my husband is no longer left alone at home. Our grown up children still live at home and my daughter's job as a swimming teacher means she often pops home between teaching sessions; my son has just finished uni, so he is home while job hunting. Meanwhile I work 36 hrs per week and my employer is fantastic and quite happy for me to work from home full-time if I want. At the moment I get to the office as much as I can, for a bit of extra company if nothing else, but it's good to know there is no issue in me working from home.

    At night, all three of us are around for my husband - and at the moment there is no problem there, as he sleeps well throughout the night (though I know that could change).

    So, yes, we are 'lucky' that we always know when he is on his way out. My son has been very good and goes out for a walk with his dad quite often during the day, if I am working - but, as I said in a previous response, my husband does like to be alone at times too.

    I am hoping the measure I've taken will see us through for a while now (I've received an email to say the tracker will be delivered tomorrow).

    It is reassuring to know that there are other kinds of alerts / alarm devices to use as things change though. Thank you for reminding of them :)
  11. sinkhole

    sinkhole Registered User

    Jan 28, 2015
    Lynne, your situation is almost exactly the same as I have with my aunt.

    The GPS tracker has helped us tremendously and now she has got to the stage where she confuses times between day and night, it's allowed us to keep an eye on where she's been going at what time and alerts us if she leaves home at an unexpected time.

    It's not a perfect solution (there isn't one!) but it's probably the best one for a 'wanderer'.

    Just make sure you have a good strategy worked out for keeping the battery charged and be sure he won't just put it down somewhere if he suddenly doesn't recognise it. I don't know what type of tracker you are getting, but I know that my aunt wouldn't put up with something worn on her wrist or round her neck and would just take it off and throw it away. We have to hide the tracker in her coat or shopping basket.

    Have a backup plan (or preferably a backup tracker if you can) so that if it does get lost or stops working, you don't find yourself in a panic because you are completely dependent on it.

    Don't forget, it is an electronic device and they can suddenly go wrong without warning and usually at the worst possible time!

    Good Luck!
  12. LynneMcV

    LynneMcV Volunteer Moderator

    May 9, 2012
    south-east London
    Thanks SH - yes, that's exactly the same here. Hubby won't wear anything around his neck or wrist. Fortunately his coats (winter and summer) all have concealed inside pockets which he has long since forgotten about and stopped using - so that is where the little gadget will go.

    He always wears a coat of some sort when he goes out, so that seems the best option. The other alternative would be to put it on his keyring. He is quite good with his keys but once in a blue moon he does forget them - so they would only be my back up plan if he suddenly starts protesting against coats.

    I'll definitely get myself into a routine to keep it charged up - it has a charge of 48 hours but I'll probably top it up daily just to be sure!
  13. sinkhole

    sinkhole Registered User

    Jan 28, 2015
    That sounds perfect and it's what we did with my aunt, until one day she found it in the 'hidden pocket' and took it out! If possible, I would sew an additional pocket into the lining and then hide it away in that.

    If you can keep it charged every other day then that is great. Up to now, we have only been able to charge our once a week, which restricted the type of tracker we could use.

    Sounds like you've got it all sussed anyway!
  14. patsy56

    patsy56 Registered User

    Jan 14, 2015
    Fife Scotland
    I shouldn't say anthing but told OH I was going to get him micro chipped he smiled :D
  15. LynneMcV

    LynneMcV Volunteer Moderator

    May 9, 2012
    south-east London
    Lol, that raised a smile here too :)
  16. LynneMcV

    LynneMcV Volunteer Moderator

    May 9, 2012
    south-east London
    It's arrived :)

    Well, the GPS arrived today. Very pleased with it, as is my husband. He feels very happy about using it and feels that it will help his confidence and independence when out and about.

    Last night I checked his urine sample and it confirmed a UTI - so it is a relief to know that this is most likely the cause behind his increasingly strange behaviour this last week or so.

    I let the GP know this morning and I was quickly in possession of the necessary antibiotics.

    My husband is pleased that he will be feeling better soon. All in all a much more positive feeling for us all now :)

    On the downside I have had to cancel a Join Dementia Research appointment on Monday as I feel it is only right that my husband has time to recover properly from his infection so that he is much more his usual self.

    I am sure they'll understand - and will be happy to defer for a short while :)

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