Tagging people with dementia
Is it acceptable to electronically tag people who wander?
Alzheimer’s Disease International estimate that by 2010 there will be 35 million people worldwide with dementia,1 and of these, 15%-60% will have episodes of wandering from their home or care environment.2 Wandering results in increased referrals to psychiatric services, hospital admissions, police time, and stress for carers.3
Bearing in mind that there are many reasons for wandering, there are numerous potential pharmacological and physical interventions to deal with it.24 Indeed, even discussing wandering is stigmatising because it suggests that people with dementia who walk where others do not wish them to are thereby deemed to be confused, which may not be the case. Electronic tagging can be used either to trigger a perimeter alarm or as a global positioning system tracking device,5 but the ability to tag wandering people raises concerns about ethics.6
It is uncertain why people with dementia wander. The causes for wandering may vary from “inappropriate environments,