As our loved ones get older, their risk for getting lost, falling, or wandering rises. GPS trackers designed specifically for seniors provide an extra layer of protection that brings peace of mind to both the user and their family.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover how GPS trackers keep elderly loved ones safe, features to look for when choosing a device, our top picks for 2024, and tips for using trackers effectively.
How GPS Tracking Devices Keep Seniors Safe
GPS trackers utilize global positioning system satellites to pinpoint a wearer’s location. When paired with a smartphone app, family members can view real-time location updates and receive alerts if a loved one wanders outside a set geographic boundary.
If your aging parent has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, a GPS tracker watch or pendant can quickly help locate them should they become lost or disoriented. These devices provide caregivers with immediate access to their loved one’s whereabouts, day or night.
GPS trackers designed for the elderly often include additional features like:
- Emergency Buttons: Let users quickly call for help with the press of a button. Monitoring services can dispatch EMTs. For an in-depth look at a device with a responsive emergency button, read this AngelSense review.
- Fall Detection: Sense falls and automatically alert caregivers and call for help if needed.
- Two-Way Calling: Enable users to communicate directly through the device, useful in emergencies.
- Medication Reminders: Help users adhere to medication schedules. Some devices dispense pills.
- Heart Rate & Health Metrics Monitoring: Track vitals and alert caregivers of irregularities. Can provide peace of mind.
- Wander/Geofence Alerts: Notify caregivers when a user leaves a set geographic area. Helpful for wander-prone seniors. For a comparison of geofencing capabilities of AirTags vs dedicated GPS trackers, read this guide.
- AirTag Monitoring: Apple’s AirTags can also be used creatively for tracking elderly loved ones. Learn more in this AirTags for elderly guide.
Key Features to Look for in a GPS Tracker for Seniors
With many models on the market, it can get overwhelming choosing the right device. Here are the key factors to consider:
Type of GPS Tracker
- Smartwatch trackers – Discreet, versatile, and include health metrics. Streamlined for seniors.
- Pendants/necklaces – Easy to wear discreetly. Waterproof. Hit SOS button when in need.
- Bracelets – Lightweight, comfortable wristwear. Often have hidden SOS buttons.
- Shoe inserts – Hide GPS inside shoe. Good for forgetful users.
- Belt clips/pocket trackers – Clip on belt, purse, pocket. Basic models.
- Nationwide – Uses cell towers for location data across the country. Broader range.
- Local – Uses Bluetooth to connect with smartphone. Limited, short-range.
- Aim for at least 24 hour battery life.
- Charging time – Faster is better. Some charge fully in 1 hour.
- Low battery alerts help avoid losing charge at bad time.
- Waterproof devices can be worn in shower/bath. Provides flexibility.
- Especially important for seniors prone to incontinence issues.
- Lets users quickly call monitoring center or loved ones.
- Speaks to operators for help. Can also alert EMTs.
- Sense falls and alert caregivers automatically.
- Provides an extra layer of protection and security.
- Real-time – Provides location updates as they move. Offers max security.
- Scheduled – Provides updates at set intervals to save battery.
- Get alerts when user exits set geographic area.
- Helps keep wander-prone seniors safe.
- Built-in speakerphone lets user talk through device.
- Enables communication with caregivers in emergency.
- Many GPS trackers require monthly subscription fees.
- Fees range from $15-50/month for most devices.
The 7 Best GPS Trackers for Elderly Seniors
1. AngelSense GPS Smartwatch
The AngelSense GPS tracker watch is our top overall pick for its unmatched tracking accuracy and responsive support. It provides real-time location updates with excellent battery life.
The SOS button immediately contacts 24/7 emergency monitoring agents who can communicate through the watch via built-in speakers. With advanced features like voice monitoring and crash alerts, it offers unparalleled security.
- Real-time GPS tracking
- 24/7 live monitoring
- SOS button
- Voice monitoring
- Crash alerts
Monthly Fee: $33
Cost: $125 + $33/monthCheck Price on Amazon
2. Medical Guardian Smartwatch
Medical Guardian’s GPS smartwatch doubles as a fitness tracker while providing medical alert capabilities. It has fall detection, heart rate monitoring, and geo-fencing.
The large SOS button summons help with a push. Agents will assess the situation and contact loved ones or dispatch help as needed. Its comprehensive safety features make it a top choice.
- Built-in fall detection
- Heart rate & step monitoring
- Waterproof design
- SOS button
Monthly Fee: $41
Cost: $249 + $41/monthCheck Price on Medical Guardian
3. Jiobit GPS Tracker
The Jiobit GPS tracker is ultralightweight and discreet. It attaches to clothing, keychains, and more. Location updates are provided via a user-friendly app with family sharing options.
Users can receive alerts when loved ones arrive at or leave key locations. It works both indoors and outdoors for full coverage. No monitor fees make it an affordable solution.
- Compact, lightweight design
- Location sharing via app
- Motion alerts
- Geofence alerts
- Indoor & outdoor tracking
Monthly Fee: None
Cost: $130Check Price on Amazon
4. PocketFinder GPS Locator
PocketFinder uses a combination of GPS, Wi-Fi, and cellular networks to provide precise location both indoors and out. Location can be checked on-demand or scheduled to update every 5, 10, 30 minutes or more.
It includes 60 days of location history and altitude information. Affordable subscription plans make this pocket-sized tracker a flexible option.
- GPS, Cellular, Wi-Fi tracking
- Location history
- Altitude tracking
- Web & smartphone app
- Small and discreet
Monthly Fee: $13+
Cost: $99 + $13/month and upCheck Price on PocketFinder
5. CarePredict Tempo 3
The Tempo 3 by CarePredict tracks location via Bluetooth while also dispensing medication, monitoring activity, and providing reminders. It attaches to a lanyard or belt.
It tracks sleep, steps, medication adherence and more. Location alerts are sent to the smartphone app when a senior wanders too far away. This all-in-one system simplifies care.
- Bluetooth location tracking
- Medication dispensing & alerts
- Activity & sleep tracking
- Location sharing via app
- Alerts for wandering
Monthly Fee: $70
Cost: $349 + $70/monthCheck Price on CarePredict
6. MobileHelp Smart GPS Tracker
MobileHelp’s GPS tracker connects to AT&T’s cellular network to provide nationwide location tracking. It includes fall detection as well as an SOS button that contacts emergency operators.
Monitoring agents will confirm your loved one’s location, contact loved ones, and dispatch help if needed. It provides security on-the-go or at home.
- Nationwide GPS tracking
- Fall Detection
- 24/7 emergency monitoring
- SOS button
Monthly Fee: $29
Cost: $99 + $29/monthCheck Price on MobileHelp
7. Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
The Galaxy Watch 5 makes an excellent GPS tracker for seniors familiar with Samsung devices. It tracks real-time location via the Galaxy Wearable app, includes fall detection, and heart monitoring.
The built-in Bixby assistant can understand commands, analyze speech, and learn preferences. Hands-free access makes it versatile for aging users. It provides core tracking with smart features.
- Built-in GPS tracking
- Fall detection
- Heart rate monitoring
- Waterproof design
- Voice assistant
Monthly Fee: None
Cost: $199Check Price on Amazon
Tips for Using GPS Trackers Effectively and Keeping Seniors Safe
To get the most out of a GPS tracking device for an aging loved one, follow these tips:
- Have them wear it daily so it becomes a habit. Attach to keys or a purse if not worn on body.
- Ensure it fits comfortably and is charged nightly.
- Add caregiver contact info and medical info to SOS profile.
- Set up geofencing alerts for high-risk wander zones like doors.
- Share real-time location access with all caregivers. Coordinate monitoring.
- Keep written instructions handy for using features. Do demos to build familiarity.
- Consider pairing high-functioning trackers with a wall-mounted alert system for home emergencies.
- Remind them the device is for their security, not to intrude on privacy. It supplements direct care.
- Set expectations on when and how location access will be used. Get their consent.
- Evaluate house to prevent exits and remove dangers that could lead to falls.
- Contact local Alzheimer’s Association for an in-home assessment and resources.
For active seniors who enjoy hiking with dogs, a GPS collar like the SportDOG TEK Series allows them to locate their pet if it runs off trail.
GPS Trackers vs. Medical Alert Systems for Seniors
GPS trackers and medical alert systems both aim to improve seniors’ safety, so which should you choose? Here’s how they compare:
- Focus on tracking location via GPS or Bluetooth.
- Useful for wander-prone seniors or emergency location.
- Often include fall detection, geofencing, and emergency calls.
- Require wearing a device or having it nearby.
Medical Alert Systems
- Focus on quickly summoning emergency help at home via a pendant/wrist button.
- 24/7 monitoring centers dispatch EMTs and contact loved ones.
- Less emphasis on location, more on emergency response.
- Requires being home within range of the base station.
Key Takeaway: Medical alert systems are ideal for emergency help at home, while GPS trackers provide more detailed location data and alerts for active, wandering seniors. Many newer medical alert systems now incorporate GPS technology, blending both capabilities.
6 Other Advanced Technologies That Can Keep Seniors Safe
While GPS trackers are extremely useful, they’re not the only tech that can enhance senior safety. Consider adding these to your care plan:
Smart Home Sensors
In-home sensors monitor activity, allowing remote caregivers to get alerts if routines change, which could signify an emergency.
Cameras providing look-ins and security systems with professional monitoring can also increase safety.
Automatic pill dispensers provide reminders and confirm doses are taken. Some integrate with caregiver apps.
Walkie talkies allow constant contact between caregivers and seniors with limited mobility.
Wall-Mounted Alert Buttons
Large, easy-to-push emergency buttons provide urgent help for home accidents.
Sensors that sound when doors or windows open alert to wandering attempts.
Choosing the Right GPS Tracker for Your Needs: An Important Decision
Adding GPS location tracking capability can greatly improve the safety and independence of seniors at risk due to wandering, memory impairment, unsteadiness, or medical events.
While buying a tracker may seem difficult given the options, taking the time to evaluate your loved one’s specific needs will make the decision easier.
Prioritize must-have features like fall detection and emergency support, and look for devices that balance functionality with comfort and ease of use. This will lead you to a solution that provides security and confidence without being overly complex.
With proper use, GPS trackers grant seniors more freedom while keeping caregivers confident in their well-being. Ultimately, that peace of mind is invaluable.
Frequently Asked Questions About GPS Trackers for the Elderly
Do I need a smartphone to use a GPS tracker?
Most GPS trackers for seniors sync to a smartphone app that shows location and enables features. Some operate standalone but then provide less data. Smartphone integration is recommended.
How accurate are GPS trackers for tracking people with dementia?
Today’s wearable trackers use advanced GPS, WiFi, and cellular triangulation for accuracy down to several feet. Clear lines of sight improve accuracy. Trackers work well for locating wanderers.
Can someone with dementia remove a GPS tracking bracelet?
Some seniors with dementia may attempt to remove tracking devices if they feel constrained. Using tamper-proof bands, reminding them of the purpose, and consistent daily wear helps. Start use early before cognition declines further.
Do I have to pay monthly fees to use GPS trackers?
Many GPS trackers require monthly service plans to access cellular networks and monitoring centers. Fees range from $15-50/month typically. Some devices have no monthly fee but more limited functionality.
How long do GPS tracker batteries last?
Battery life varies but averages 1-3 days. Features like real-time location tracking drain batteries faster. Charging nightly is best. Pick trackers with longer battery life and low battery alerts.
Are GPS tracking watches waterproof?
Many are now water-resistant or waterproof to withstand splashes, rain, and even showers. Check the IP water rating when choosing a tracker watch. This provides flexibility and insurance against droplets.
Is there one GPS tracker that’s best for all seniors?
There’s no universally ideal GPS tracker. Each senior’s needs are unique. Evaluate their daily routine, health factors, budget, and degree of independence and cognition before choosing a device.
What’s better: a GPS tracking watch or pendant?
Watches are more versatile but pendants are discreet. Pick based on your loved one’s needs and which they’ll feel most comfortable wearing daily. Watches include more features typically while pendants excel at emergencies.
Adding GPS tracking capability provides an extra layer of protection for elderly loved ones that grants confidence and freedom. With countless models available offering various features, take the time to thoroughly evaluate options against your loved one’s needs.
Focus on comfort, battery life, user-friendly design, and responsive monitoring. With the right device, you can rest easy knowing help is there if ever needed. Peace of mind is invaluable for both aging adults and their caregivers when dealing with the many challenges that come in later years.
Don’t just choose the first GPS tracker you see – do your research. Compare features, costs, and capabilities. Think about your loved one’s daily habits, mobility, health conditions, and degree of independence. Find a device that will work seamlessly into their routine.
While GPS trackers are extremely useful aids, they should supplement, not replace, human care and interaction. Maintain frequent contact with your loved one, get to know their care team, and stay vigilant about their overall well-being.
With smart use of location tracking technology paired with attentive caregiving and medical oversight, seniors can retain more freedom in their daily lives. A reliable GPS tracker provides an added layer of protection when paired with proactive planning and care. Ultimately, by balancing safety and independence, you can bring confidence, comfort and joy to your loved one’s later years.