GPS-tracking insoles for safer walking

Learn about a trial in Dorset to test global positioning system (GPS) tracking insoles within the shoes of people with dementia.

Walking feet

Walking about

As a person’s dementia progresses, they might feel the urge to walk about and even leave their home.

Although walking can be a positive form of exercise that relieves stress and boredom, there can also be risks.

In order to help keep people with dementia safe when walking, the NHS in Dorset is testing a new global positioning system (GPS) device.

What is 'walking about'?

It is common for some people with dementia to spend long periods of time walking around in their home or trying to leave their home to walk outside.

Learn more

Testing the tech

People with dementia who consented to take part in the trial were given GPS-fitted insoles, known as SmartSoles, to test out. The insoles can be discreetly tucked into shoes and easily swapped between different pairs.

The aim of the insoles is to enable the person to be independent as well as safe. If the person walks away alone they can be easily located using a smart phone or computer that is connected to the insoles via an app. A notification is sent to the carer’s mobile phone from the GPS tracker as soon as the person with dementia walks outside of a defined area, such as a garden or care home.

Sally Copley, Director of Policy, Campaigns and Partnerships at Alzheimer’s Society, said

‘Becoming lost and disorientated is a serious concern for people living with dementia and their loved ones – not only can it put them at risk of harm and stop them from being able to live independently, but also can cause great stress to families and carers.

‘The use of GPS tracking for people with dementia is a contentious issue. Our research has shown that, when used appropriately, it can provide reassurance and even save lives. People with dementia told us that they want the technology to be easy to use and putting it in slippers could achieve that, but it’s also important that it’s only used when it’s wanted.

‘Ultimately it’s a personal decision but it’s crucial we find ways to help the 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK keep their independence. That is why we recommend that these technologies are discussed as early as possible after a diagnosis, so that the person living with dementia is able to give informed consent and, if they want to, begin benefiting from these potentially lifesaving devices, that will give them the confidence to go out and about without fear of getting lost.’

Our research

Alzheimer’s Society has funded research in this area. Dr Ruth Bartlett at the University of Southampton worked with people with dementia, carers and the local police to find out whether GPS devices are appropriate and if they help people to remain independent for longer. 

Research we have funded

Find out more about the research project, funded by Alzheimer's Society, that explores GPS technology for people living with dementia.

Learn more

Results of the study

The study is now complete. Results suggest that GPS devices can be a useful tool when introduced at a stage when the person with dementia can consent and maximise the benefits to their independence.

This will help to inform dementia care policy and provide people with dementia, carers and police with practical guidance for the use of this technology.

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Care and cure magazine: Autumn 18

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Care and cure is the research magazine of Alzheimer's Society is for anyone interested in dementia research.
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Where can I buy the insoles for my mum she has mixed dementia and has disappeared a couple of times after calling the police they recommended a tracker because and she is less likely to take them off or loose them
My Father was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia / Alzheimers 2 years ago, since then he has deteriorated slightly & has caused a lot of worry & stress when he's in a particular mindset & does a disappearing act for hours on end which has entailed using the resources of the local Police Constabulary, Police Helicopter & Police Dog Handlers after being missing for over 5 hours....Fortunately for all as a family & many many thanks to all involved my father was found in the early hours, disorientated & cold but safe. I have been trying to buy a pair of these GPS insoles online, to prevent the emergency services using all of their resources & deal with other needed emergencies & also to lesser the worry/stress from my mother who is his full time carer so I can track my father from my mobile but they're always out of stock...please please could you inform of how I can purchase a pair.
There appear to be several companies which supply gps tracking devices but it is hard to find a UK based one which has good reviews and can thus be recommended. It would be useful to have some tried and tested recommendations from you; it is clear from the comments on this page that I am not the only person looking for assistance with this.

Please send me details

Help with which trackers work the best would be great. It would help keep my husband safe when he goes out and give me some peace of mind. Inner soles would be great as someone else mentioned he wouldn’t be aware they were there.

Could you please advise me on how I go about getting this gps tracker for my grandad whose recently been diagnosed with vascular Dementia.

GPS insoles would be great for my dad but I wouldn’t have a clue as to which ones are best. Can anyone recommend please.

Good afternoon,
Is it possible to share details of where to obtain gps insole trackers please as I'm struggling to find one for my Dad with mixed dementia. Thank you for your help.

I have been looking for a watch for my mum with a built in GPS. I think smart watches are far to complicated for the elderly. Just a simple but nice looking watch with a built in GPS is all that is needed. My mum would not find a modern smart watch appealing to wear so wouldn’t wear it.

These would be great for my father who has dementia. He has been out several times lost and picked up by the police. It’s getting harder and something like this would be great and probably a life saver. He won’t wear a pendant or watch but in his shoes is somewhere my dad wouldn’t know was there.

Would be interested in the trial.

This would be very useful as mum would not wear a gps on her wrist and would give us peace of mind when she goes out which is most days

I would really be interested in a GPS tracker even a trial one for my mother could someone please contact me regarding this?

I have been reading the details of several GPS trackers that I feel would benefit my mother who has Vascular Dementia. In your research on trackers did you find which worked the best. I should like a key ring one as my Mom often forgets purse, phone etc?