Dementia: track me if you can.

The newest debate around (or rather, the newest debate that has interested me) is about the use of a GPS device for those who suffer from dementia. This GPS device will be one that is worn around the neck of sufferers of the disease, in an attempt to locate them if they go missing.

However, as with everything, it has caused uproar amongst many who have labelled it “inhumane”, stating that it is derogatory and reduces sufferers to criminals. Personally, I fail to see what is so inhumane about it. Is it because the device goes around the neck? Somehow people seem to relate things worn around the neck to animals, namely dogs. In that case, when a man or woman wears a necklace to somehow enhance themselves, they should see themselves in the mirror not as a human, but someone who has been dehumanised and transformed into an animal. Also, in terms of appearing like criminals or feeling like criminals, I think that thought process shouldn’t even exist. If the individual knows they aren’t a criminal, and their family and friends know they aren’t a criminal, then nothing should prevent their wearing of something that is beneficial for them. Criminality shouldn’t even cross one’s mind.

These GPS devices are not designed to make dementia sufferers feel as though they are somehow outcasts in society. If anything, the aim is to ensure that if they go astray – and are unable to be located by their friends or family – they are found safe and sound, and in the least amount of time possible. Of course, the sufferer – as well as his or her family – should be consulted before such a tag is placed around the neck of the individual, and this is exactly who should decide: the individual in question. It should be their right to decide whether they want it not. We live in world where, fortunately, we manage to get a lot of choice about what we want and need. Similarly, patients should be allowed to the option to decide.

Not only this, but I believe the GPS tracker only benefits the social care system in the UK, removing people from care homes and cutting costs. I think that the device shouldn’t just be exclusive to those suffering from dementia, but to those with any form of mental illness which could result in their safety being at risk if left alone. As more and more elderly people are left in care homes, such tracking devices will only mean that they can remain in their own home and hopefully, go about their day-to-day activities surrounded by their loved ones, as well as regain their independence regardless of their age and mental health. If anything, then it is these care homes that imprison elderly people and hospitals that confine mental health sufferers. GPS tracking devices will only allow those at risk to remain tracked and located, for the peace of mind for others and themselves.

I know that if I, in the future, came to suffer a mental disorder, would definitely purchase such a device to ensure that those who care about me (provided there are people who do!) will know where I am and easily locate me. I also think it is the choice of the individual, and that the GPS tracking device shouldn’t be banned or removed, just because a certain group of people disagree with its use.


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