Dementia has always been a problem for people all over the world, but a variety of recent studies reveal that the issue may run a fair bit deeper than a lot of us suspected. According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization, there are currently 47 million people living with dementia all over the globe. Worse than that, however, is the fact that this number will increase to 75 million by as soon as 2030. Just a few years later, by 2050, those original numbers are expected to triple. A separate study from Alzheimer’s Disease International revealed that someone in the world develops dementia every three seconds.
As this is clearly a problem that is only going to get worse before it gets better, people are looking for new and innovative ways to take action today to help stave off disaster tomorrow. Recently, a number of advancements have been targeted at precisely that goal — many of which take an interesting technological perspective. Recently, it has been argued that people with dementia should absolutely have access to location-finding devices, with GPS trackers being just one example, so that their friends, family members and other loved ones can always locate them in the event of an emergency. This wouldn’t just help make it easier for those affected by the disease to continue to lead their lives without compromise… it could also save a significant amount of lives, as well.
Dementia and GPS Trackers: What You Need to Know
According to a study conducted by the University of Southampton, roughly 500,000 people currently living in the United Kingdom with dementia are still in their own homes. Shockingly, more than 40% of those people will get lost at some point over the next few years. Roughly 25,000 of them will get lost on a regular basis, which will only double the rate at which this group is admitted to long-term care. But the most unfortunate statistic of all is the following: about half of people with dementia who go missing for 24 hours or longer either die or are seriously injured in some way.
These are the types of facts that researchers say prove that introducing GPS trackers into the lives of people with dementia can have an immeasurable impact in the most positive way possible. The key, however, is to introduce those devices to patients during a time when they’re still able to appreciate both the benefits and the consequences of them. This will, in turn, allow them to get used to the device to the point where it becomes a true habit, which itself is what will make the difference moving forward.
A trial has even been conducted by the Alzheimer’s Society that helped underline this fact in an appreciable way. People with dementia were given GPS trackers while they were out walking in their communities. After this brief period, a series of sit-down interviews with family caregivers was also completed to help discuss the impact that such a device would make on a person’s life. Afterward, the patients with dementia, their family members and even members of local police agencies all agreed that GPS technology could be an “acceptable adaptation” for everyone involved.
But most critically, the report also indicated that giving GPS trackers to people with dementia is not a silver bullet that will address this problem once and for all. The report recommends that both patients and their families should sit down with influencers in their community — with local members of the police force being just one of many examples. This, in turn, gives the influencers a better chance to get to know the dementia patients, which itself will go a long way toward supporting them and helping them to stay as safe as possible at all times.
Likewise, the report also recommended that police community support officers should receive specialized, in-depth training about dementia and the steps that they need to take to help adapt to this issue and create safer communities for all of us to enjoy in the future.