Active RFID vs. GPS Devices for Monitoring Wander-Prone

Individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s and/or dementia are prone to wandering. In fact, nearly 60% will wander at some point during their battle with the disease (National Alzheimer’s Association).

Electronic monitoring devices can be used to protect these vulnerable individuals while still being mindful of their need for independence and dignity. Personal wander monitoring technology typically falls under two categories – radio frequency identification (RFID) and global positioning systems (GPS).

Benefits of Active RFID Wandering Management Technology

There are many benefits to active RFID technology, specifically this technology is much more pro-active when comparing against more reactive GPS technology.

    • Door GUARDIAN™ Active RFID wander monitoring technology by Secure Care Products, LLC can prevent an individual from leaving a defined safe area by locking doors and/or alerting care providers when that individual approaches a monitored exit or safety zone.
Active RFID vs GPS Alzheimer's Tracking Devices
  • The individual can still move independently throughout a facility except in those areas where access should be restricted due to potential injury (e.g. kitchens, boiler rooms, exterior courtyards exposed to the elements, etc.).
  • Unlike GPS systems that rely upon third-party satellites to receive their signal, active RFID system receivers can be strategically positioned throughout a facility to provide the most extensive coverage and ensure optimized signal strength for the best monitoring of wander-prone individuals.
  • The battery life warranty for the active RFID transmitters used for our Door GUARDIAN™ wandering management solution range from nine (9) months to three (3) years.

Limitations of GPS 

From our experience, we found a few key limitations to GPS technologies, that we hope might be useful to you when making your decision.

  • Our solutions can be used to monitor an individual indoors.
  • GPS devices generally have a short battery life ranging from a few hours to several days depending on the activity level of an individual and other factors, so battery management can be an issue.
  • GPS tracking device sends an alert once an individual has left a  defined area; it does not actually prevent the individual from departing a safety zone. While the GPS device can then be used to try to locate the monitored individual (assuming the signal is not blocked), in some cases it may ultimately lead to a caregiver finding the wander-prone individual after he/she has been injured or worse yet, having suffered a fatality after wandering out of the defined GPS safety zone.
  • GPS relies on the satellite network and, thus, requires a clear line  of sight between the tracking device worn by a wander-prone individual and generally at least three (3) satellites to accurately calculate position.
  • If a GPS tracking device can only communicate with two (2) satellites, the location of the individual can be significantly misrepresented.
  • Without clear line of sight, GPS signals are also susceptible to being blocked by buildings, tree cover or even the monitored individual should he/she fall in such a way that his/her body covers the device.
  • A GPS device that is integrated in the clothing or shoes may be removed by the Alzheimer’s or dementia sufferer and/or fall off should he/she walk through mud, snow or heavily wooded or marshy areas.
  • Learn more about  our GPS alternative