Tracking systems: What devices exist to keep track of a family member who wanders?

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What devices exist to keep track of a family member who wanders?


I would like to find out about tracking systems for my husband who has dementia.

Our answer

Wandering is a common behaviour associated with dementia, and with the right tool is can actually be beneficial. Wandering is a low impact form of exercise and can be a healthy outlet for managing the complex emotions that can come with dementia. However, the concern with wandering is that a dangerous situation could occur. There are several products available that aim to provide caregivers with peace of mind by tracking the individual. Below, we have organized a few of these options based on how they work.

Global Positioning System (GPS)

These devices are often associated with monthly fees since they rely on cell service for accuracy and to send information to the person doing the tracking. The Alzheimer’s Store does offer these types of devices in their US store.

The Senior Link Blog has an extensive list on GPS tracking devices and their features.

  • Amcrest GPS GL300 GPS Tracker (at Amazon Canada) offers real-time tracking with updates ranging from every 60-seconds to every 5-seconds. You can track someone's location through desktop web-access (Chrome, Safari, Edge, Firefox) or through the Amcrest GPS smartphone app (iOS/Android). You can create custom geo-fencing zones that alert you anytime the GPS tracker enters or exits a zone. A monthly subscription service is required and varies depending on how fast you want the location to update. However, there are no contracts or activation/cancellation fees. The product costs $40 to $60 (CDN), plus additional shipping fees and monthly subscription.
  • Pocketfinder Smart Tracker  helps you locate, monitor, and track your family member by logging into your account from, or the free mobile app for select Android or Apple iOS devices. You will receive alerts when the tracker enters or exits a predefined geo-zone or the trackee presses the SOS button. In addition to viewing a GPS location, you can also see a nearby address, an altitude, your distance from the address, and the speed the device is moving. The product costs $149 (USD), plus additional shipping fee and a monthly service plan of $13 (USD).


These devices connect via Bluetooth to a smartphone and then rely on the cell service from that smartphone to provide location details.

  • Key Tracker, by Tile MateTile Mate by Tile Inc. (atAmazon Canada) is a keychain-sized Bluetooth locator. A connected smartphone can be used to ring the device – and visa versa. The smartphone app will show where the Tile Mate was when it last had Bluetooth connection. The Bluetooth range is about 60 meters. This product costs $30 (CDN), plus additional shipping fees.
  • Innway Card by Innway (at Amazon Canada) is a credit card-sized Bluetooth locator. The card and the connected smartphone can ring one another, and the app shows the location where the card was when it was last connected to Bluetooth. This product costs $50 (CDN), plus additional shipping fees.
  • AngelSense by AngelSense is a wearable device that has a variety of features including an option to set up notifications to caregivers and family members through an app.  There are several tracking and wearing options to get the best use out of the device. The device sells for around $85 (CDN) and there are monthly and annual payment plans for ongoing coverage.
  • TheoraCare has two options that might help with your father’s wandering. The first option is the Theora Senseis an in-home, affordable remote monitoring system that supports independent living for care recipients and peace of mind for their caregivers. The second option is the Theora Connect, priced around $250 (CDN), which is a smart watch that is synced to the app on the caregiver/family member’s phone.

Smartphones are another option. The most common newer ones already have GPS functionality and if the phone is being used by the person with dementia they might already have a data plan. The process is unique to the smartphone, but generally, one user can authorize another user to keep track of the location of that smartphone.

In a previous Ability411 question we looked into GPS tracking devices that could fit into a hat to track a loved one who wanders.

You might also be interested in learning more about some other resources to create a safe environment for wandering.

It is important that the ethical impacts of using GPS to track someone should be taken into consideration. If possible, the decision to be tracked should be made in collaboration with the individual, and consent should be obtained (from them or their substitute decision-maker). For more information on this issue, you may want to read this article from the National Institutes of Health in the U.S.

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