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What do cognitively intact older people think about the use of electronic tracking devices for people with dementia? A preliminary analysis.

International Psychogeriatrics 22(8):1301 (2010) PMID 20594387

The issue of using advanced tracking technologies such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS) is part of a wider debate on the acceptability of assistive technology to older people with dementia. The use of GPS can enhance the personal safety of older people by alerting caregivers to potential dangers or adverse events that might threaten the individual's health and safety, but at the same time it raises ethical concerns. This study examines the attitudes of cognitively intact older people toward the use of tracking devices for people with dementia. The analysis is based on quantitative data from a convenience sample (n = 42) and qualitative data gathered from two focus groups of cognitively intact older people in Israel. Whereas cognitively intact older people clearly differentiate between themselves and people with dementia, they support the use of tracking devices when dementia is either formally diagnosed or its signs are evident. They value the safety of people with dementia above preserving their autonomy. Although they perceive the decision to use tracking devices as an intra-family issue, they expect guidance from professional caregivers of people with dementia. The acceptability of tracking devices is dependent on their appropriate weight, size and ease of use. Cognitively intact older people favor the idea of tracking people with dementia. To facilitate family decision-making on the use of tracking devices, structured meetings guided by professionals and including persons with dementia and their family caregivers are suggested.

DOI: 10.1017/S1041610210001316