LIFE Participant Uses GPS Technology to Stay Safe at Home

Published: Tuesday, September 06, 2016

The goal of the LIFE (Living Independence for the Elderly) Programs is to provide the care, programs and services needed to keep eligible seniors living safely at home.

“We want to help our participants be independent members of their community to the greatest extent possible,” said Matt Long, OTL/R, LIFE Lawrence County. “And sometimes that means we have to look for creative solutions.”

Long said he often turns to technology items, both high- and low-tech, that participants can use in their homes. These could include overhead track lifts for transferring from a bed to a chair, cooktop protectors that sound an alarm when the stove is left unattended, low vision items, and home modifications.

These are great, he said, but it is important to keep seniors safe in the community as well.

One item, a GPS tracking unit, has proven invaluable for LIFE Lawrence County participant Joann Snyder, and her granddaughter, Amber, a CNA at the Center.

Joann has dementia, but is otherwise healthy, and wishes to remain living in her home with family.

“When she first started wandering because of the dementia, I knew we needed to do something to keep her from going places that aren’t safe or familiar to her. The GPS does that,” Amber said.

Joann wears a small tracking device on a cord around her neck. Amber and her family determined a ‘safe zone’ where Joann could go within her neighborhood, and programmed the parameters into the GPS. If Joann accidentally wanders outside the safe zone, Amber immediately receives an alert through an app on her phone, allowing her to take action immediately.

“Grandma loves to keep busy all the time. I can check the app whenever I want and always know exactly where she is,” Amber said. “Without the GPS, I would be so much more nervous. The GPS won’t keep her from wandering, but it could save her life.”

“We take so many simple things for granted,” Long added. “It is a privilege to have so many technology items available to help our participants, and to give their families peace of mind.”

The GPS unit is just one example of a technology device that can help an older adult live more abundantly. For information about senior-friendly technology, please contact the SilverSmartTM Technology Center at (724) 452-3619.

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