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Encore
A blog about living in and planning for retirement

Device Tracks Seniors Prone to Wandering

Last week, I test drove the PocketFinder, one of a handful of new high-tech devices families can use to track the location of a person, pet, or car—something that might come in handy if you are concerned about wandering children, dogs, or elders.

At the same time, I received an email from Laurie Orlov, who writes a blog entitled “Aging In Place Technology Watch.” Ms. Orlov compiled a list of several “new technologies and/or services” for potential use in caring for older adults.

Among the products she highlights is a service that installs high-tech sensors in an elder’s home, with “an artificial intelligence algorithm” that learns his or her “habits and detect patterns that could indicate a fall or loss of consciousness.” Yet another product on Ms. Orlov’s list is a “smart bed,” capable of tracking a person’s “heart rate, breathing rate, motion and presence.”

Here is how PocketFinder works:

The round device, about two inches long, is light enough to be worn on a belt or around one’s neck. The manufacturer sells three models –one for humans ($149.95), one for pets ($149.95) and one for cars ($189.95). Service is free for the first two months and costs $12.95 a month afterwards.

The technology relies upon GPS signals and can be programmed to send you data as often as once every two minutes. On the PocketFinder web site, you can also set up geographic zones and request to be notified when the person you are tracking moves outside the specified boundaries. When a device is installed in a car, it can tell you how fast the vehicle is moving.

Dave Michael Morse, a vice president at PocketFinder, says Sun City West in Surprise, Arizona purchased the devices for some of its residents who are prone to wandering. A local volunteer force that patrols the community uses the technology to track these residents and return them home when missing.

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About Encore

  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.