A DEMENTIA expert says she's instructed her daughter to put a tracking device under her skin if she develops symptoms in later years.

Professor June Andrews, OBE, said she had expressed her wishes to her 20-year-old daughter after giving her power of attorney.

A trained nurse, Professor Andrews now works independently to improve the lives of people with dementia and their carers and has written a number of books on the subject.

While GPS tracking is a controversial area within care of the elderly, Professor Andrews believes tracking devices could save families anxiety and distress if their relative goes missing and potentially save lives.

More than 30,000 people go missing in Scotland every year and there has been an increase in the number of people with dementia being reported to police.

Typically, where a person becomes confused and does not returned as expected to their home or nursing home.

More than 60% of people living with dementia can at some point start to wander.

Professor Andrews is in favour of subcutaneous trackers, inserted under the skin, which are used in some countries but not in the UK.

There is a small economy of elderly tracking and tagging devices, from pocket GPS trackers to wearable soles.

In Japan, adding barcodes to the thumbnail and toenails of elderly people with dementia which has a record of the patient’s name, address, phone number, and who to contact in case they’re found disorientated.

Professor Andrews said: "I've signed over my power of attorney to my daughter and I've said to her, when the time comes, put a subcutaneous tracker in.

"I would be delighted for her to do that.

"A huge amount of family anxiety is caused when someone goes missing, to the person and the family.

"A huge amount of police money is spent on it and in many ways it's actually wasted time.

"We know there's a news story that says, old people are being tagged like criminals.

"The general, sensible response to that is, actually it's better than being hunted like a dog.

"They used to be very ostentatious and stigmatising.

"At one point they were just devices which worked in your house but now you can be found, even if you have left the country.

"As they are getting smaller, the batteries last longer.

"The chip is available in other countries but not here, however there is a prototype."

Many UK local authorities have telecare systems and community-based alarm services with staff who respond to alarms.

A pilot project has also been launched by Police Scotland in the Inverurie area in which family members and care providers gather vital information for use should their loved one go missing in the future.

It is now being rolled out to other areas including Greater Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire divisions.

Professor Andrews said: "The first time that someone goes missing there is actually a lot you can do.

"What relatives can do should do is start taking a photo of their loved one every day or at least a recent one.

"Either hire or buy outright or ask the local authority, or ask the police if they are able to provide a tracker device.

"The devices can also alert you if the person stops moving for a long time.

"You can have a movement sensor into it. If someone bumps into something or falls over, it alerts you. They are getting more and more sophisticated."

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article call the Altzheimer Scotland 24-hour helpline on 0808 808 3000