People affected by dementia try out GPS safer walking devices

People living with dementia tell us what they think about devices designed to share your location when you’re out and about.

Alzheimer’s Society has been working with Ravencourt Living to develop a GPS device to help people with dementia stay independent and safe. 

It shares your location with a chosen relative or friend in case you need help or become lost. 

People affected by dementia have been providing vital feedback for its development.

GPS device and safer walking app

Safer walking device and app 

Ravencourt designed a safer walking device that shares where you are with someone you’d want to be able to find you, if you’re out and about and need help. 

If you press the device’s SOS button, that person gets a notification on their phone through a special app, which they subscribe to. You’ll know the notification’s been sent because the device will vibrate. 

Your contact can call and speak to you through the device. The app also shows them where you are, in case they need to come to you. 

You and your chosen contact can also set up ‘zones’ that you’d want to stay within. For example, that could be a park or venue that you’re visiting, or in and around your home. They can get a notification if you walk in or out of these zones. 

Out and about 

Julie and Chris were keen to test the Ravencourt device, especially for when they separate to do things in town or at events. 

‘We went to a classic car rally and Chris went off with a friend, and I could see where he was. 

We were able to locate each other at the rally and when we went to Peterborough, going around the cathedral etc. 

‘Chris says he would remember to press the button just now, but he wonders if he’d remember further down the line.’ 

Chris had the device in his bag because he’s used to keeping that on him, but Julie noted that others might prefer it on a lanyard or in a pocket. 

The live tracking worked well, so we didn’t even need to call.

They found it easy to set up zones, and Julie added, ‘It was clear and easy for Chris to use, it’s just got the one button for him to press.’ 

Julie thought the device could be especially helpful when travelling abroad. It can be used in the EU, EEA, Switzerland and the US.

Prototype being tested and final GPS device

Judy testing a prototype and the final device now available.

Helping independence 

James wanted to see if the Ravencourt device would help his mother, Judy, maintain her independence when walking to and from their local dementia hub. 

‘Previously we had a simple, old-style mobile in my mother’s bag which, if called, she would usually answer,’ he says. ‘However, as her Alzheimer’s has progressed she now does not answer the phone. 

The feature on this device which automatically puts the call through to speaker was great, as she would then hear my voice and then answer. 

‘On two occasions she missed her turning and, using the voice call feature, I was able to direct her to the centre.’ 

Having set up zones, James got a notification when Judy missed the house on her way back. 

‘She was tired after being out all morning and I had less time, so it was easiest to jump in the car. I switched from monitoring her location on the app from the computer to the phone and quickly found her.’ 

Judy wore the device on a lanyard, and there were a couple of times when she took this off and put it in her pocket. As she has a hearing impairment, that meant she couldn’t hear when James called. 

‘However, I was still able to track down her location and pick her up,’ says James. 

I wish I had had the tracker a couple of years ago when she was more independent, but would occasionally get lost. 

‘The location feature makes it much better than a phone, and I am sure in the earlier stages she would have found pressing the SOS button easier than trying to call me.’ 

Improved device 

Ravencourt updated their device based on feedback from Julie, Chris, James, Judy and other testers. The improved Safer Walking GPS Locator is now available from our online shop for £149.99. You can subscribe to the Safer Walking 2 mobile app for £14.99 a month. 

People living with dementia have also been testing a device from Taking Care that’s connected to a 24-hour support centre. We’re talking further with them about ways to make this as helpful as possible. Watch this space, as we hope this will be available in our shop in future too!

Helpful everyday products

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