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article imageOp-Ed: Degrading or essential? GPS for dementia patients humanized Special

By Maria Elisa Anacay     Jun 16, 2013 in Technology
If you could ensure your loved one's safety by utilizing a tracking device, would you consider it as an essential or as inhumane?
The Sussex Police is under a lot of pressure as its proposed solution to wandering pensioners was stonewalled by elderly critics. Some claim that putting tracking devices on the elderly citizens is “inhumane.” However, I believe that this is an innovative move that could potentially save countless lives.
As Sussex Police Sgt. Suzie Mitchell says, the technology would prove to be pivotal in searching for people with dementia. “It is heartbreaking to see the torment that their families are put through,” says the police officer. The tracking device is non-invasive as it could easily be attached to a belt or house keys. The wearer can also converse directly with an operator should he need help.
Yet while the device might prove to be invaluable to families whose loved ones are suffering from dementia, the public is still torn about the preposition. The National Pensioners Convention hailed the innovation as “barbaric” while other groups are very vocal about their displeasure.
It is worth pointing out that dementia patients have trouble remembering things, names, and locations. They could walk to a mall and forgot why they went there. Worse, they could slip out of the house without anyone noticing and walk away. They’re not doing this to runaway, mind you. Oftentimes they just forget what they are supposed to do.
This characteristic poses a serious problem. As someone whose own grandmother suffered from dementia, our family was torn apart when our matriarch went missing one day. Despite the IDs she’s wearing, nobody could found her for two hours. When we found her, she was sprawled on a sidewalk with a broken leg. She was holding her broken cane and sobbing soundlessly.
Had that tracking device been available ten years ago, we would have bought one in a heartbeat. It is not about dehumanizing the elderly: it’s about ensuring their safety without restricting their freedom. They can still go to and from as they please: only now, family members would virtually be able to take each step with them. Family members would be able to react more instantaneously, instead of waiting for the worst to happen.
As I found out the hard way, dementia patients could be prone to walking around. Despite endless precautions, at one point or another, the caretakers would slip and the patient would escape. When this time comes, it’s for the best if you know where you can find your loved one, to ensure that nothing untoward happened to them.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about dementia patients, Gps, Tracking device, United Kingdom
 
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