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How GPS Bracelets For The Elderly Can Keep Them Safe

GPS bracelets for the elderly are part of a new wave of technology that can help save lives and keep folks living independently at home.

With a GPS bracelet or pendant, the wearer can be located anywhere there is a cellular signal and contact with GPS satellites.  But not all GPS bracelets are made the same, and its important to understand the differences in capabilities and costs.

First, it's important to understand that not all cellular based medical alert systems include GPS tracking technology.  A true GPS system uses satellites to get accurate positioning.  Some systems on the market use terrestrial-based location systems instead - this means they use cellular towers and other land-based positioning to determine your location.  This is a significant difference, as land-based positioning is far less accurate in determining your exact location.  For example, a land-based system using U-TDOA wireless location technology for location services will find you within 100-300 meters of your location...that's one to three football fields in each direction.  A GPS system will find your location within 15 feet or less.

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Secondly, a true GPS based system will provide mapping information, and allow for advanced features such as geo-fencing (allowing you to set a perimeter and notifying you if the devices leaves the perimeter), and bread-crumbing (allowing you to see the most recent locations and traveling direction of the device).

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Third, a GPS bracelet is fine for location services and as a way to signal for help.  However a GPS bracelet is not appropriate for automatic fall detection.  A fall detector must be worn close to the body, preferably close to the breast plate as a GPS pendant, or on the hip with a belt clip.  Otherwise, a wrist based GPS bracelet with automatic fall detection will trigger false alarms easily due to swinging arm movement.

Choose your GPS medical alert system carefully and make sure you use a reputable company with experience in this area.  In addition to the physical hardware of a GPS bracelet or pendant, the monitoring center must be well versed in how to monitor GPS emergency medical alert signals and know how to dispatch emergency services in all locations of the country.