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GPS Trackers for People with Dementia

GPS trackers prevent your loved one from wandering and help you find them if they get lost. We found trackers with the best features for comfort, battery life, and accuracy.
Written by | Updated August 11, 2020
Best overall
AngelSense Kids GPS logoAngelSense
  • Free equipment
  • Two-way talk
  • Free equipment
  • Two-way talk
Smartwatch pick
TheoraCare logoTheora Connect
  • Stylish wrist watch design
  • Companion devices for home
  • Stylish wrist watch design
  • Companion devices for home
Medical alert pick
Philips Lifeline logoPhilips Lifeline GoSafe 2
  • Built-in fall detection
  • Five locating technologies
  • Built-in fall detection
  • Five locating technologies

Bottom line: AngelSense is trusted by parents and caregivers

AngelSense was designed for children with special needs in mind. But parents of special needs children and caregivers of people with dementia share many common challenges. AngelSense addresses the needs of both groups. 

The AngelSense GPS device tracks your loved one without limiting their freedom. It attaches securely to clothing and shoes or can go around their waist like a fanny pack. The device links to a caregiver app where you can set up safe zones, get custom alerts, and even talk to them directly through a two-way speaker. 

If your loved one slips out of sight, you can track their movement history and see live updates of their location. The equipment itself doesn’t cost anything—you’ll just pay a monthly fee for the cellular connection.  

Compare GPS trackers for dementia

Starting monthly price
Equipment price
Emergency button
Create geofences
Safety lock
Battery life
Best overall
Smartwatch pick
Medical alert pick
Discreet pick
Best battery pick
AngelSense Theora Connect Philips GoSafe 2 SmartSole Jiobit
AngelSense GPS Tracker Theora Connect product image Philips GoSafe 2 Alert SmartSole product image jiobit kids tracker
$33.00 $29.97 $49.97 $14.99 $12.99
$0 $247.97 $99.00 $299.00 $129.99
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
X
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
X
Yes
Yes
Yes
Sold separately No
X
No
X
Sold separately
144 hours 24 hours 72 hours 48 hours 168 hours
Visit AngelSense Visit TheoraConnect Visit Philips Lifeline Visit SmartSole View on Amazon

Info current as of 08/11/20. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

*Amazon.com price as of 08/11/2020 at 3:32 p.m. (MT). Read full disclaimer

Each GPS locator uses a companion app that shows a map with your loved one’s location. A few other common features in most (but not all) of these GPS trackers include geofencing, SOS buttons, and fasteners that keep the device on your loved one.

Our approach 

We put a lot of thought into what makes the best GPS tracking device for someone with dementia. The main factors we landed on were comfort, battery life, and trackability. 

Each of these elements combine to create a GPS tracker that is comfortable to wear, long lasting, and easy to track. 

Learn more about how we approach reviews like this one on our methodology page. 

GPS tracking device reviews

AngelSense: Best overall

Best overall
AngelSense GPS Tracker

AngelSense is a small device that attaches to your loved one’s clothes or waistband, using safety lock pins to stay in place. We love that all of AngelSense’s wearables are comfy for older adults and children alike. 

A person with dementia can wear the device on their clothes or with the specialized waist belt all day without any irritating seams or tags. The waist belt is a unique addition for GPS locators, especially for people who have trouble keeping their clothing on. 

Pros

  • Comfortable all-day wear
  • Helpful locating features
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Not waterproof
  • Pricey without a contract

The AngelSense app is the control center for the device. These are a few of its features: 

  • Set up virtual fences
  • Get regular location updates
  • Create custom alerts 
  • Retrace their steps 
  • See their current location

In addition, its audio features let you listen in to their environment, speak to them directly, or set off an audible alarm that lets you find them nearby. 

The device comes equipped with an SOS button the person wearing it can use to call you in the case of an emergency. If they feel threatened, scared, or find themselves lost, the button on the device will connect directly to your smart device. 

To top it all off, AngelSense has an impressively long battery life compared to the other trackers on our list. It lasts for about six days (or around 144 hours), but we still recommend charging it frequently. 

AngelSense currently doesn’t charge for equipment. You can get the device for free and then choose your subscription plan. Two of these plans require an annual contract—one you can pay monthly while the other requires one payment per year. The third is a month-to-month plan that doesn’t require a contract but costs a little more. 

  • Month-to-month plan without contract: $52.99
  • Monthly plan with contract: $39.99 
  • Annual plan with contract: $33.33

Unfortunately, AngelSense is not waterproof, but the sleeves can help keep water off the device while they’re outside. 

Learn more about pricing and features from our full AngelSense review

 Theora Connect: Smartwatch pick

Smartwatch pick
Theora Connect product image

Theora Connect is a GPS tracking device dressed up as a slick wristwatch. It has a clear watch face and an emergency button your loved one can use to contact you for help through the app. You can also purchase an optional latch lock device to keep it securely attached to your loved one’s wrist. 

Pros

  • Disguised as a stylish wristwatch
  • Directly connected to a companion app
  • Available with motion sensors and sleep monitor

Cons

  • Requires charging every day

The app has smart features like geofencing and two-way talk. You can set safe zones around your home or neighborhood—if they leave the area, you’ll get an alert and their location. 

Two-way communication isn’t anything new for GPS tracking devices, but with Theora Connect, it’s a button-free feature. So your loved one won’t need to bother with controls on the watch-they can simply speak to you. 

You can also loop in other caregivers in the app, giving your relatives or professional caregivers access to your loved one’s location. It’s a quick way to form search parties in your community.

Theora makes additional accessories like Theora Sense motion detectors, Theora Rest sleep monitors, and Theora door alarms. The data these devices gather can reveal patterns in your loved one’s behavior like sleepwalking or frequent bathroom trips. 

The Theora Connect GPS watch costs $247.97 up front—then expect a monthly bill of $29.97 for the cellular connection. The cellular connection links the device to your mobile app, but it can drain the battery. 

You’ll need to charge the Theora Connect every night, because it only holds a charge for 24 hours. The charger has a handy magnetic clip so you won’t have to fumble with USBs in the dark.

Philips GoSafe 2: Medical alert pick

Medical alert pick
Phillips Lideline GoSafe 2

The Philips GoSafe 2 ranks among one of our favorite medical alert devices, especially for those with automatic fall detection. It’s a simple lanyard GPS tracking device your loved one can wear comfortably all day in and out of the house. 

It uses five types of location technology: Wi-Fi, A-GPS, intelligent breadcrumbs, two-way communication, and an audio beacon. The first three combine to give you an accurate picture of their whereabouts, while the second two help you speak to them or hear where they are. 

The GoSafe 2 comes with automatic fall detection, a feature you’ll normally have to pay extra for. If the person using the GoSafe 2 trips or slips, the device will notice and automatically call for help (especially helpful if they’re knocked unconscious).

Pros

  • Five location technologies
  • Automatic fall detection
  • Professional monitoring

Cons

  • Fees for self setup
  • No safety lock

What is automatic fall detection?

Automatic fall detection is a built-in feature found in the best medical alert systems. It senses changes in speed and height that indicate a fall. If your loved one falls down, the device will contact you and a professional monitoring center to send help.

The GoSafe 2’s main drawbacks include a lack of safety lock and the $50 monthly bill (plus an additional $20 if you want to activate and install it yourself). 

It falls in the pricier range for medical alert systems but comes with professional monitoring. This feature connects you with a team of pros who can talk to you or your loved one through an emergency, then contact first responders if needed.

Read our full review of the Philips Lifeline medical alert devices to learn more.

SmartSole: Discreet tracker

Discreet pick
SmartSole product image

If your loved one has a hard time with watches, belts, or clips, SmartSole is an alternative GPS tracker that could work for them. This unobtrusive device is disguised as a shoe insole that you can trim and fit to their favorite pair. 

Pros

  • Discreet design
  • Location history and mapping
  • Discounts available

Cons

  • Expensive up front
  • Basic app functions

SmartSoles are expensive up front and can cost up to $25 per month (depending on which plan you choose). Both plans offer basic location features to help you keep track of your loved one. 

If you have a limited budget, there are discounts for ordering multiple pairs of insoles. You can also get a discount through some insurance companies (just ask your agent before you buy). SmartSole also has some helpful medicare resources

While SmartSole isn’t on the cutting edge of tech, its readings are accurate and easy to understand. We like that it’s a discreet way to care for a person with dementia without causing them discomfort or unwanted attention.

Jiobit: Best battery life

Best battery life
jiobit kids tracker

The Jiobit is a tiny tracker around the size of a cracker. Its small size makes it easy for the wearer to ignore or forget about and can clip onto belt loops, buttons, shoelaces, and keychains. Locking mechanisms are sold separately but won’t break the bank. 

Pros

  • Tiny and subtle design
  • Add multiple caregivers to app
  • Set up custom alerts and trusted places

Cons

  • Contract required for cheaper plan
  • Safety lock costs extra

Another advantage to the Jiobit’s bite-sized design is its long battery life. It tops the list with a seven-day battery life, making it more trustworthy long term than other products on our list. But it’ll still need a regular charge to be safe. 

The Jiobit uses four types of location technology—cellular, GPS tracking, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. Combining these technologies provides a more accurate location of your loved one’s whereabouts. In the app, you can add other caretakers, track in real time, set up geofences, and set up custom alerts. 

There is a contract option for $8.99 per month that locks you in for a full year, or you can pay $12.99 for a month-to-month deal.

Final word 

Whether you’re caring for a parent, grandparent, or other family member with dementia, you don’t have to go it alone.

Technology like GPS trackers and medical alert systems can help you along the way, but they’re no replacement for support from friends, family, and community. The more help you have from the people around you, the better care you can provide to your loved one.

FAQ 

Why do people with dementia wander? 

Wandering is a common behavior for people with dementia like Alzheimer’s. It usually comes from stress or anxiety.1 

Common reasons for wandering includes looking for a lost item, running through an old routine, expressing a basic need, or being in a new or unfamiliar place. 

How can I prevent wandering?

When people with dementia wander, it often comes from stress or fear. Creating a strict routine can help keep them comfortable and grounded. 

To prevent wandering, hide your car keys, add a chime on the exits to the home, or camouflage the door with a curtain or sticker decal

What are the warning signs that my loved one may try to wander?

Pacing and restless wandering around the house are usually good indicators. If they talk to themselves, listen closely to what they say. Do they talk about places from their memories like their old office or home? Do they talk about needing to “go home” or “go get something”? 

These could be indicators that they’re feeling restless or anxious, which could cause them to wander or leave home. 

What should I do if my loved one gets lost? 

Like any emergency, having a plan in place before it happens will increase your chances of finding your loved one. 

  • Make sure they have some form of ID on them like a medical bracelet or necklace. These should hold details like who they are, where they live, and a brief description of their medical history. 
  • Tell others around you about your loved one’s condition. Neighbors, local police, and friends nearby may be able to help search your loved one. Have a recent photo handy in case they’re missing for more than 24 hours, and keep track of what they wear day to day.
  • Enroll them in the MedicAlert safe return program, which can create a customized missing persons report and share it with first responders.2

Sources

  1. Mayo Clinic Staff, The Mayo Clinic, “Alzheimer’s: Understand Wandering and How to Address It,” July 2018. Accessed July 16, 2020. 
  2. Natali Edmonds, Dementia Careblazers, “Know What To Do If Your Loved One Wanders Away,” April 2017. Accessed July 14, 2020.

Disclaimer 

*Amazon.com list price as of 08/11/2020 04:14 (MT). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided “as is” and is subject to change or removal at any time.

Written by Katie McEntire

Katie McEntire has tested home security systems in her own apartment, installed GPS trackers in her own car, and watched her cat, Toki, nap all day through a live nanny cam feed. As an expert reviewer, she believes that firsthand experience is the best way to learn about new products (even if it requires being the guinea pig). She specializes in pet safety and DIY security and has contributed to publications like DigitalCare.org and TechGuySmartBuy. Learn more

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