Stay Safe With a GPS Tracker for the Elderly

Key Points

  • A GPS tracker for the elderly uses satellite positioning to determine your location and call for help if you need it.

  • GPS trackers help seniors maintain their safety and independence.

  • Consider size, price, functions, and capability when you select a GPS tracker for the elderly.

Wherever you go, there you are. It’s both a statement of zen calm and a geographical fact. When you want to know exactly where you are, and you want others to know it, too, carry a GPS tracker for the elderly.

Independence improves your quality of life and satisfaction as you age; technology helps you maintain it. A GPS tracker for the elderly zeroes in on your location, which you can share with your family or caregivers through an app or web-based tool.

What Is GPS?

The inventions of the 1960s seemed to bring science fiction to life. Robots, satellites, and a trip to the moon were previously only a fantasy, but their invention paved the way for devices common in households today.

One such invention is the Global Positioning System (GPS). 

GPS was born in the Sputnik era. Scientists found a way to track a satellite using shifts in its radio signal known as the "Doppler Effect." They successfully used this new data to track nuclear submarines.

Today, GPS is a space-based radio navigation system owned by the U.S. Government and operated by the United States Air Force.

GPS provides two levels of service — Precise Positioning Service (PPS), which only government agencies can access, and Standard Positioning Service (SPS), which users worldwide access free of charge. 

How Does GPS Work?

GPS uses satellites orbiting the Earth to pinpoint your exact position and movement. 

If you studied trigonometry, perhaps you remember trilateration. This mathematical law uses the lengths of all three sides of a triangle to determine the interior angles of the triangle. GPS expands this principle to three dimensions.

You don’t have to know math to use GPS — the device does the work for you. It communicates with three or more satellites and uses the distance to each of them to deduce its location. 

For GPS to work, it needs a clear line of sight to satellites. Natural barriers like mountains, thick foliage, or clouds hinder signals, as do obstructions like large buildings and dense communities. This makes GPS tracking in mountainous regions or large cities less accurate. 

It takes three seconds to a couple of minutes to get your GPS location, depending on your location and surrounding barriers.

Network-Assisted GPS (A-GPS) and Smartphones

Your smartphone probably uses the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Assisted GPS (A-GPS).

Satellites continuously transmit information to the mobile network towers your smartphone uses. By collecting data from nearby towers instead of distant satellites, A-GPS offers better indoor accuracy and is much faster than GPS.

A-GPS also saves battery life and gathers location data even when a GPS signal is unavailable.

A-GPS overcomes some of the limitations of GPS, but it also has drawbacks. Since it relies on access to a cellular network, your A-GPS device doesn't pick up any signals if you travel out of the network’s reach. 

A-GPS is faster at finding your location, but GPS is more precise. 

When you choose a GPS or A-GPS device, find out if the cellular network the device uses is reliable in the location where you live and travel.

What Is a GPS Tracker?

A GPS tracker is a portable unit that allows you, or anyone with a remote connection to the unit, to monitor and track your location. It might be a device you wear on your wrist, clip to your clothing, insert in your shoe, or wear like a necklace.

Perhaps you have used a GPS navigation system on your car or mobile phone. This technology allows you to choose any destination, and the navigation system directs you from your current location. 

A GPS tracker doesn’t give directions. It uses GPS technology to pinpoint your location in real-time on a map and share it via an app or service. 

Why Do Seniors Use GPS Trackers?

GPS trackers for seniors allow family members and caregivers to find your location. Trackers are handy if you have dementia and are prone to wandering off or getting lost.

“People with dementia might forget the phone — or in the case of an emergency might not be able to use it,” says André Malm, senior analyst at telecom industry analysts Berg Insight. “So you really need a dedicated device — a wristwatch or a pendant — so you can make sure the person actually has it on them.”

A GPS tracker provides peace of mind for you and those who care for you. 

Features to Consider in a GPS Tracker

When choosing a GPS tracker, consider how you'll use it and what features are essential. Keeping your GPS tracker with you would be best to reap the benefits, so consider size, user interface, features, and accuracy.

Type of Device

GPS trackers come in small clip-on devices, hand-held phones, and apps for your smartphone. Wear it as a necklace, watch, or bracelet, or carry it in your purse or pocket. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s comfortable to wear or carry.


Many seniors enjoy wearing a discrete tag or clip on their clothing. Others prefer a larger hand-held device with easy-to-use controls. Ensure your GPS tracker is not too bulky or heavy to wear comfortably.


GPS tracking devices often have a one-time cost to purchase the device or application and may also have an activation fee and a monthly plan cost. 

Check the cancellation policy, or find out if you can switch to a different product as your safety needs change.

Additional Features

GPS trackers may have additional features bundled in. GPS watches, for example, often double as fitness devices, providing health metrics and other measurements. Other features to look out for include SOS emergency buttons, two-way calling, and audio monitoring.

GPS Accuracy

A GPS tracker's accuracy is essential; your safety depends on it. Ensure that the device you choose has a high level of accuracy to pinpoint your location.

Battery Life

The battery life of a GPS tracker is a critical factor. Check that the battery lasts long enough to cover your needs and does not die unexpectedly.

User Interface

Ensure the GPS tracker's user interface is easy to use, especially if you're not tech-savvy. It should be simple to set up and operate.

How To Choose a GPS Tracker

Choosing a GPS tracker is a lot like choosing a mobile phone. You select a device that has the look and features you want, but you should also consider the service provider that comes with it.

Consider the following questions to hone in on the best device and service for your needs.

What Is Your Lifestyle? Are You Active and Driving?

You might still be driving, socializing outside your home, or even traveling despite experiencing mild memory loss or loss of mobility. A car-based solution or pocket device might work for you. If you have significant memory problems, opt for a wrist-worn or clip-on device that is more difficult to lose or remove. 

Where Do You Live — Urban, Rural, or Suburban Setting?

GPS is less dependable in dense areas, so it may not be as accurate if you live in a city with high buildings. Rural areas, on the other hand, often have limited cellular coverage. Ensure the service you buy provides reliable coverage.

Do You Need Location Services Indoors, Outdoors, or Both?

GPS location is accurate within a few feet when you're outdoors, but indoor locating is less accurate. With Network-Assisted GPS (A-GPS), your indoor location information is more accurate. 

Consider a device with zones or geofences (virtual perimeters) when you need both indoor and outdoor monitoring. The system alerts your contact when you enter or leave the boundaries you've set. 

How Frequently Do You Want Your Location to Update?

Do you need your GPS device to update continuously or only when you leave your home or zone? Do you want to keep your location private unless you need assistance? Choose a tracker that updates often enough to ensure your location is accurate.

Are You Concerned About Wandering or Getting Lost?

If you want to be independent but might become confused or lost, look for a device with a zone or geofence feature. This alerts your contact when you enter or leave a pre-set zone.

What About Computers and the Internet? 

The person checking your GPS location needs access to a smartphone or computer and a reliable Internet connection. If they don’t have internet service or are uncomfortable using a web application, opt for an emergency-only device with remote monitoring services. 

How Do Your Caregivers Want to Receive Alerts?

Consider how your family or caregiver wants to receive your alerts. If they work at a computer all day, perhaps they prefer email alerts. Send text alerts to their mobile phone if they are on the go. Some GPS trackers have a 24/7 monitoring center that accesses your location or summons help in an emergency.

Best GPS Trackers for the Elderly

Now that you understand how GPS trackers work and the features they offer, you're ready to choose a product. Make your decision easier by considering which features are essential to you.

Best GPS Tracker With No Monthly Fee

Family1st GPS Tracker is a fully-featured device with no monthly fee. It offers real-time 4G LTE GPS tracking with up to five-second updates via desktop web access or the smartphone app.

This lightweight, compact tracker provides real-time alerts, geofencing, location history, and customizable reports. Plus, it has a two-week battery life and a lifetime warranty. 

Best of all, it has no subscription fee and 24/7 customer support.

Best GPS Tracker With Two-Way Communication

AngelSense Personal GPS Tracker comes with a wearable sleeve and is the only GPS tracker with built-in two-way communication. AngelSense helps those with special needs like dementia and Alzheimer's. 

It has a long battery life and is water-resistant, making it suitable for outdoor use. It also has an emergency system that alerts designated contacts if you remove the device or when you enter or leave a designated safe zone.

Best Phone and GPS Tracker

KidsConnect Secure Phone is a simple 4G cell phone and GPS tracker with no internet, games, apps, or spam calls. As the name implies, it started as a product for kids, but it has become popular with seniors because of its simple operation.

You or your caregiver determine which numbers the phone calls and receive calls from, and it displays three simple buttons on the home screen so you can quickly dial your top three numbers.

Your contacts receive real-time phone tracking, SOS, and geofencing alerts via an app or web-enabled device.

Best Compact GPS Tracker

Tracki is the smallest and lightest GPS tracker at just 1.75 by 1.5 by 0.55 inches and only 1.26 ounces. It works on 4G LTE, 3G, and 2G networks and includes a worldwide SIM card. Wear it with a strong magnet, waterproof silicone cover, belt clip, keychain, or lanyard. Tracki has up to five days of battery life and is water-resistant. 

Your contacts receive SOS alerts, safe zone notifications, speed alerts, low battery alerts, and more via text, email, and the mobile app.

Best GPS Tracker App for Smartphones

Senior Safety App is a free app that remotely monitors your phone location and protects against falls, wandering, online scams, and abuse across 97 countries. 

Quickly configure the Senior Safety App on any Android smartphone, enabling your caregivers to monitor alerts, reports, and your location remotely from their smartphones or computers. 

Choose the Right GPS Tracker for You

Making smart use of technology allows you to age independently and safely. A GPS tracker is a crucial player in your senior safety plan. 

Slip this space-age technology onto your wrist or into your pocket to always have a backup if you're injured or lost.

Subscribe to GoldYears for more tech and safety suggestions for seniors.

Was this article helpful?