Guide on Tracking Elderly Parents: Legality, Ethics and Best Devices

April 2, 2024

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As parents enter their golden years, keeping tabs on daily activities becomes crucial for ensuring safety and well-being. However, tracking elderly loved ones requires careful navigation of legal, ethical and relationship considerations. This in-depth guide provides expert tips for respectfully monitoring aging family members using phone apps and dedicated GPS devices.

Signs It’s Time to Start Tracking Elderly Parents

Best Gps Trackers For Tracking Elderly Parents

Typically between ages 60-75, older adults undergo natural yet concerning declines in mental sharpness, physical ability and overall functionality. Key warning signs include:

Mental Red Flags

  • Increased forgetfulness and memory lapses
  • Frequent confusion and disorientation
  • Difficulty following instructions or conversations
  • Getting lost in familiar places and wandering

Physical Challenges

  • Mobility issues limiting daily independence
  • Managing multiple medications and doses
  • Unexplained bumps and bruises possibly from falls

Behavioral Changes

  • Missing important appointments and social events
  • Neglecting household chores and personal hygiene
  • Making uncharacteristic financial mistakes

Noticing one or more of these indicators means it’s time to discuss implementing location and activity monitoring for your elderly loved one’s protection.

Is It Legal to Track Elderly Parents?

The short answer is yes, tracking aging family members is legal with their express consent. A few important guidelines:

  • The senior must be clearly notified about the specific type of monitoring
  • They must voluntarily agree to and permit the tracking
  • Verbal consent is acceptable but written authorization is best
  • Secretly recording conversations via monitoring devices is illegal without the consent of all parties

Always prioritize transparency, permission and privacy rights when deciding to track your elderly parents’ whereabouts and routines.

Ethical Considerations for Monitoring Seniors

Beyond strict legality, surveilling older loved ones requires sensitivity to three key ethical principles:

  1. Autonomy: Monitoring should preserve independence and self-direction as much as possible. Avoid unnecessary restrictions.
  2. Dignity: Respect the senior’s privacy and freedom. Only track what’s essential for safety.
  3. Trust: Maintain an open, collaborative approach. Tracking shouldn’t undermine familial bonds.

Balancing safety and autonomy is an ongoing process. But experts agree the senior’s participation in decisions is critical.

Best Practices for Tracking Aging Family

Easing into location monitoring requires finesse and planning. Some insider tips:

Have Gradual, Honest Talks

Introduce the idea of tracking over multiple conversations before making changes. This prevents the senior feeling ambushed.

Involve Them in Decisions

Evaluating tracking options together gives the older adult a voice and preserves dignity. Invite questions and address concerns thoroughly.

Focus on Benefits

Emphasize how monitoring prolongs independence by enabling prompt emergency assistance and wellness check-ins as needed.

Set Clear Boundaries

Detail what, when and how tracking will occur. Commit to confidentiality and data minimization.

Start Small

Begin with basic, periodic check-ins. Increase scope only if concerns arise. Regularly reevaluate the senior’s needs and abilities.

Helping the senior see you as a collaborator—not a warden—is key to acceptance and success.

Top Phone Tracking Apps for Seniors

Top Phone Apps For Tracking Elderly Loved Ones

For tech-comfortable elders, smartphone apps offer affordable, user-friendly monitoring. Popular options include:

AppKey FeaturesPrice
Life360Real-time location, emergency detection, check-insFree-$8/month
Find My FriendsBasic location sharing via existing iPhone/iPadFree
AngelSenseWearable tracker, caregiver alerts, 2min updates$40-60/month

When choosing an app, consider the senior’s tech proficiency, battery life impact and any extra safety features like fall alerts.

Best GPS Devices for Monitoring Elderly Parents

For seniors resistant to or incapable of managing a smartphone, dedicated GPS trackers provide discreet, low-maintenance monitoring. Standout devices offer:

  • Live location tracking
  • Customizable geofencing and arrival/departure alerts
  • SOS panic buttons
  • Two-way voice communication
  • Long battery life and easy charging

Top picks for elderly tracking include:

DeviceBatteryHighlightsPrice
Jiobit5-7 daysAttachable to clothing, nationwide range$130 + $8-13/month
AngelSense1-3 daysIdeal for dementia, built-in speakerphone$100 + $40-53/month
Tracki2-5 daysCompact, showerproof, global coverage$18-25 + data plans

For comparisons of top devices, see our detailed breakdowns of Tracki vs AirTag, AngelSense vs Jiobit, and the best Jiobit alternatives.

Carefully evaluate battery life, ease of use, coverage area and notification settings to select a tracker suited to your elder’s abilities and needs.

Getting Started with Elderly GPS Monitoring

Once you select a device, follow these setup steps to get tracking working optimally:

  1. Discuss the process openly with your senior. Cover why, when and how monitoring will work.
  2. Document the agreed permissions with a basic consent form.
  3. Start with minimal tracking. Assess together after a trial period.
  4. Maintain privacy. Only share info as needed.
  5. Check in often. Provide tech support and emotional encouragement.

Remember, the goal is enhancing safety and quality of life, not stripping freedom. Go slowly and collaborate closely.

Key Takeaways

  • Mental, physical and behavioral changes indicate when to start tracking aging parents
  • Monitoring is legal and ethical with clear consent and communication
  • Choose user-friendly smartphone apps or GPS devices suited to your elder’s abilities
  • Involve the senior in decisions and only track what’s necessary for well-being
  • Regularly evaluate changing needs and adjust together

FAQ

  1. Is it illegal to secretly track my elderly parent?

Yes, tracking someone without their knowledge and consent violates state and federal laws. Always notify the senior and obtain their express permission.

  1. Can I track my parent who has dementia and can no longer agree?

Typically yes, if you are a legally appointed guardian or power of attorney. Dementia requires extra safeguards and supervision. AngelSense is a top choice for those with memory issues.

  1. What’s the best device for a senior who’s not tech-savvy?

For elders unaccustomed to smartphones, wearable GPS trackers like Jiobit or AngelSense provide simple, low-maintenance safety monitoring.

  1. How do I talk to my parent about location tracking?

Have a series of honest, respectful discussions about the benefits to their safety and independence. Offer options and invite their feedback. Provide strong privacy assurances.

  1. Can GPS trackers detect if my parent has fallen?

Some advanced devices like AngelSense include fall detection alerts. Most provide an SOS button the wearer can press during emergencies.

With empathy, transparency and consent, GPS tracking allows elderly loved ones to maintain cherished independence while ensuring prompt help if needed. Reach out with any other questions!