Electronic tracking system and wandering in Alzheimer's disease: a case study

Ann Phys Rehabil Med. Sep-Oct 2009;52(7-8):579-87. doi: 10.1016/j.rehab.2009.07.034. Epub 2009 Aug 31.
[Article in En, French]


Introduction: Wandering is a behavioural disorder, which occurs in Alzheimer's disease or other dementia. People who wander are at risk of physical harm and untimely death. Moreover, wandering behaviour causes a lot of stress to the caregivers. In the last few years, different geolocation devices have been developed in order to minimise risk and manage unsafe wandering. These detection systems rarely meet patients and caregivers' needs because they are not involved in the devices building process.

Aim: The aim is to explore the needs and perceptions of wandering persons and their caregivers towards existing tracking devices as well as their acceptability and usability. This paper reports a dyad case.

Materials: The tracking system tested is presented as a mobile Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver-shaped, including function of telephony and data transfer via GSM/GPRS.

Method: Dyad patient/caregiver expressed their needs and perceptions towards tracking devices and gave their impressions about the functioning of the tested device at the end of the test.

Results: The patient focused on the device's shape which he found too voluminous and unaesthetic, and was unable to give an opinion about the device's functioning. The spouse highlighted malfunctions and usage difficulties, which made the device not appropriate to her needs.

Conclusion: Involving end-users in the co-design of new technologies is necessary for building tailored devices. Moreover, in this area of dementia care, the person-centred approach is essential to a tailored wandering management.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology*
  • Art
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Cell Phone / instrumentation*
  • Communication Aids for Disabled
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Failure
  • Esthetics
  • Geographic Information Systems / instrumentation*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Spouses / psychology
  • Wandering Behavior*