GPS Devices Revolutionize Safety and Independence for Individuals with Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Autism

The use of GPS devices has emerged as a groundbreaking solution in supporting individuals with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and autism. These innovative technologies provide reassurance, safety, and independence to individuals affected by these conditions, as well as peace of mind to their caregivers. One such example is the MetAlert Smartsole, developed by GPS SmartSole, and the MetAlert RoomMate. These devices, along with GPS-enabled solutions, have proven to be invaluable tools in locating and safeguarding individuals who may wander or get lost. This article will delve into the significance of GPS devices in aiding individuals with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and autism, while also discussing the integration of GPS technology as a means of finding individuals with dementia when they go missing.


The Importance of GPS Devices for Individuals with Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Autism:

For individuals with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and autism, wandering or getting lost can pose significant risks to their safety and well-being. These conditions often impair cognitive abilities, including spatial awareness, memory, and the ability to navigate. As a result, individuals affected by these conditions may find themselves disoriented and unable to find their way back home or to a familiar location. GPS devices have emerged as a transformative solution in addressing these challenges by providing real-time tracking and locating capabilities.


The MetAlert Smartsole and MetAlert RoomMate: Enhancing Safety and Independence:

The MetAlert Smartsole, developed by GPS SmartSole, is a pioneering wearable GPS device designed to fit discreetly within the user’s shoe. This innovative solution allows individuals with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and autism to maintain their independence while ensuring their safety. The Smartsole utilizes GPS technology to track the user’s location in real-time, providing caregivers and family members with instant access to their loved one’s whereabouts through a computer, tablet, or smartphone. This feature is particularly crucial when an individual goes missing, as it enables a prompt response to locate and bring them back to safety.

Similarly, the MetAlert RoomMate, developed by MetAlert, offers an advanced indoor tracking solution. This device is specifically designed for individuals who spend a significant amount of time indoors, such as those residing in care facilities or at home. By utilizing state-of-the-art technology, the RoomMate allows caregivers and facility staff to monitor the movements of individuals with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and autism within a designated area. This capability enhances safety within these environments, minimizing the risks associated with wandering or getting lost.


Integrating GPS Devices to Find People with Dementia When They Get Lost:

In addition to the dedicated GPS devices mentioned above, GPS technology has been instrumental in locating individuals with dementia when they go missing. Research conducted by Ruth Bartlett, an Associate Professor at the University of Southampton, highlights the benefits of GPS in this context. GPS-enabled devices, such as buddi and Safemate, provide individuals with dementia a sense of security while walking outdoors. These devices feature alarm buttons to call for help, and their locations can be tracked remotely by caregivers or authorities using computers, tablets, or mobile phones.


The Limitations and Alternative Solutions:

While GPS devices have proven immensely beneficial, it is important to acknowledge their limitations. GPS technology primarily functions outdoors and may encounter challenges indoors or underground. Consequently, alternative solutions have been proposed to address these limitations. In Japan, a 1cm sticker with a QR code containing the wearer’s contact details has been developed, which can be placed on a fingernail. Norway has also considered legislation that would allow healthcare workers to determine who should be provided with a GPS-enabled device. Furthermore, initiatives like the Herbert Protocol in the UK encourage carers to provide useful information in the event of a person with dementia going missing, and safe havens—designated places where individuals with dementia can seek refuge if they become lost—have also been identified as potential solutions.


Research and Practical Information for Healthcare Professionals:

To further enhance the effectiveness and ethical use of GPS devices for individuals with dementia, ongoing research projects are being conducted to gather insights from various stakeholders. Ruth Bartlett, leading a research project at the University of Southampton, aims to understand the experiences of individuals with dementia, family caregivers, and even police officers regarding the use of GPS technology. By gathering these perspectives, the research project aims to create practical information that can be utilized by healthcare professionals and others in supporting individuals with dementia.



GPS devices, such as the MetAlert Smartsole and MetAlert RoomMate, along with GPS-enabled solutions, have revolutionized the safety and independence of individuals with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and autism. These devices offer real-time tracking, ensuring prompt responses to locate individuals who may wander or get lost. While GPS technology primarily functions outdoors, alternative solutions and initiatives are being explored to address limitations and provide comprehensive support. With ongoing research and the collaboration of healthcare professionals, GPS devices continue to play a vital role in improving the lives of individuals with these conditions, enabling them to venture outdoors while staying connected and safe.


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