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Expert Review – Electronic Locator Device

KeyRinger Locator

Sierra Systems

$30.00, sold in sets of two. Includes four factory installed lithium batteries, two pieces of double-sided foam tape (for sticking the devices to objects like remote controls or cell phones, etc.), and a stick-on magnet.

Sierra Systems

The listing of these products is for informational purposes and individuals must use their own caution and judgment when using these resources. Functional levels and changes in judgment and reasoning are highly variable in people with dementia. Interventions must be individualized and continually assessed because those that are effective for some individuals may only work briefly and may not work at all for others.

The KeyRinger, sold in pairs, is useful for finding misplaced keys or other household items. The device has two units, each of which is capable of finding the other. If one is attached to the person's keychain, for example, clicking the Find button on the other will make the missing unit beep loudly (for 15 seconds) and flash a bright light. One KeyRinger can be kept on the refrigerator to keep it handy for finding a missing key ring or another item to which the other KeyRinger has been attached. A popular configuration is to attach one unit to a key ring and one to the TV remote control. This way, the one on the key ring can be used to find a misplaced remote control and the one on the remote can be used to find missing keys. Though this device works up to 300 feet, it does not penetrate walls, so you need to go room by room to find a lost item.

A person with dementia, however, may not be able to learn how to use the locator device or may misplace the devices. You, the caregiver, may want to keep one handy in order to help the person find lost items that have a locator device on them.

Loud beep – easy to hear if lost items are in drawers or under a seat cushion

Flashing red light helps find items in the dark

Effective in our testing – even found keys we hid under a mattress

People with dementia can get very upset when they lose and cannot find their belongings (keys, purse, remote control, or even a cane)

When used correctly, this device can reduce distressing time spent on finding objects.

Number of times you press Find button When you first use the KeyRinger to find a lost item, you must double-click the blue find button. This reduces false alarms if it was to get accidently bumped, say in your purse. However, even though the label on the key ringer says "double click", several of our testers kept forgetting during the one month test period and were clicking just once, which has no effect.

But if no more than 15 seconds has gone by and you don't find the lost item after clicking the first time, then you press the find button once to try again. Knowing whether to press once or twice could be confusing to a person with dementia.

Pressing the wrong "button" Though the KeyRinger units are correctly labeled, the design led some testers to press the wrong part of the unit, raising some initial frustration. It's worth taking a moment to describe the issue, to help you provide the right instructions to the person you care for. Though the actual button to activate the KeyRinger is blue and is labeled "Double Click," it is not raised enough to look like a button, while the nearby Sound Deflector is raised and does have the appearance of a button. Inevitably, some testers were pushing the Sound Deflector rather than the blue button. This, of course, had no result. The product would be easier to use, especially for someone with dementia, if the blue button/label were raised and the instructions said "Double Click Here" rather than just "Double Click."

Turning off the sound on a lost item that you have found If the sound on a found item is still beeping (it beeps for 15 seconds, then turns off), you must press the blue label on the item that was lost – NOT the KeyRinger in your hand that you are searching with. This may be confusing to a person with dementia.

Losing the device Some caregivers keep one device on them at all times in a convenient location.

False alarms The KeyRinger may occasionally emit a false alarm in response to loud sounds; however, in our testing, we had no false alarms. Other key locator devices that we tested consistently sounded false alarms and beeped in response to loud sounds or vibrations (e.g., a truck going by).

As we've noted before, the person with dementia may not be able to learn how to use the device or may misplace the devices. You, the caregiver, may want to have your own device and keep it someplace handy (your own key ring), so you can help the person find lost items that have a locator device on them.

Do not press the Find button close to someone's ear – the sound is loud enough to be painful or damage hearing.

Product Selection Criteria

Our goal is to teach you how to be a good consumer and to help you learn about specific products and unique product features that may enhance your safety and the safety and function of the person with dementia. The products shown in This Caring Home serve as examples only. Manufacturers continually change product specifications and the products represented may be different from those now on the market.

We realize this is not an all-inclusive list. Products featured in This Caring Home were chosen for one or more of the following reasons:
  • Affordability
  • Attractiveness
  • Availability
  • Color selection
  • Ease of use
  • Quality
  • Safety
We encourage you to discuss product selection with other caregivers and health care professionals.

How We Tested

"ThisCaringHome.org tested many products that are commonly recommended for best practices to identify the best use of these products and any potential problems in their use by caregivers and individuals with dementia. Each product included in an Expert Review was tested in a home environment, either an apartment or a single family home (or both), by at least two people. Rosemary Bakker, interior designer, gerontologist and dementia specialist, was one of the testers for every product. Whenever possible, we tested the product over time, sometimes days, weeks, or months, for:
  • Ease of use
  • Reliability
  • Potential safety issues
As a result of our testing, we're listing the pros and cons for using these products and including safety precautions for various products. These products were not tested by persons with dementia. We hope in the future to do case studies to learn more about what works and what doesn't work in a larger variety of caregiving situations and home environments."

Products listed on our website but not tested by ThisCaringHome.org are referred to as "Product Listings".

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