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Who should make the decision on the use of GPS for people with dementia?

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Objectives: In recent years advanced technologies, such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS), allow for tracking of human spatial activity and provide the ability to intervene to manage that activity. The purpose of this study is to examine the issue of who should decide about the use of electronic tracking using GPS for people with dementia. Methods: Based on quantitative data collected from 296 participants comprising cognitively intact elderly, family caregivers of people with dementia, social workers, other professionals, and social work students, study participants were asked to rate nine different potential decision-makers to make this decision. Results: The results show that figures inside the family, particularly the spouse or the most involved family caregiver, were perceived more important in the decision-making process than figures outside the family, whereas the person with dementia was ranked third in the order of the figures. Since the decision to use GPS for tracking raises the ethical dilemma of personal safety versus autonomy and privacy of people with dementia, the findings seem to indicate that the reluctance of professional caregivers to assist family caregivers to make this decision is experienced as frustrating. Conclusions: The findings imply that in order to reach a balance between the wishes and interests of both people with dementia and their family caregivers, there is a need for more active involvement of the professional caregivers to facilitate the family decision-making process.

Keywords: GPS; caregivers; electronic tracking

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel 2: Department of Geography, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel 3: Ichilov Hospital and Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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