Eight-out-of-10 people back use of GPS devices to safeguard independence of people living with dementia


More than eight-out-of-10 (81%) Britons support people living with dementia wearing GPS devices to help them to retain their independence and stay safe. Support for the devices rises even higher – to 84% – among people who have a friend or loved one living with the disease, according to a new survey for Bupa.

Younger people (those aged 18-24) are even more in favour, with almost nine-out-of-10 (87%) saying they support the use of GPS technology to safeguard the independence of people living with dementia.

The research showed that while slightly more women (60%) than men (50%) know someone living with dementia, both sexes equally support use of GPS devices.

Using technology to improve support for people living with dementia is one of the issues being discussed at the 30th International Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International, which is sponsored by Bupa.

With the right support, people living with dementia are often able to continue many day-to-day activities. However, while wanting loved ones to stay as independent as possible, many families raise concerns about relatives becoming confused by unfamiliar settings, orwalking away and getting lost.

Managing Director of Bupa Care Services, Andrew Cannon says:

“We need to understand people’s views on these devices, as many families and even local council adult care teams are discussing their use with us.

“Everyone wants people living with dementia to retain their independence for as long as possible – and for many people that means unaccompanied trips to shops, cinema, and even the local pub. But we all need to balance that with ensuring their safety.

“GPS devices are becoming an everyday part of people’s lives: on our phones, in our cars, and on our wrists when we exercise.  While these technologies are no substitute for face-to-face contact and good care, they could be a vital tool in helping people with dementia to not just live, but to live well.”

A new dementia vision report being published by Bupa to coincide with the ADI conference in Perth, Australia, calls for a  ‘Community Wrap-Around’ to tackle dementia, which would see schools, employers, care providers and other organisations acting together to create dementia-friendly communities.

The report, called A Vision For A Dementia Friendly Society, says important changes are needed now to prevent a bleak future where older people at risk of dementia and their families may be severely challenged by unfriendly and confusing environments.

It sets out steps to improve the lives of people at risk of, or living with dementia in the community including:

  • Focusing on risk reduction awareness at early stages to ensure people take action sooner. While there is currently no cure for dementia, healthy lifestyles can play a part in reducing the chances of developing it.
  • Integrating dementia awareness into the workplace through employers embracing an active role in risk reduction and education.
  • Using technology – to educate people about dementia and how they can monitor and reduce their own risk, such as through apps and wearable devices.
  • Creating dementia-literate working environments that recognise the extra responsibilities of carers and offer flexibility such as home-working.
  • Ensuring children in schools and the wider community are dementia-literate and are educated to understand the issues that people living with dementia may face and how to support them.
  • Establishing the right health and care pathways to ensure individuals and their families are supported from diagnosis until final stages.

To download the Bupa report – A Vision For A Dementia Friendly Society – visit bupa.com/dementia

Bupa is sponsoring the 30th Annual International Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), in Perth, Australia, which runs from 15-18 April 2015.

Full press release on www.bupa.com