Elderly people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s often find themselves lost even in known settings/neighbourhood/city and find it almost impossible to get to their destination or home without assistance. Over the years, there have been many attempts at providing a full-proof solution for patients who often cannot remember even their identity. It seems, finally an effective measure has been discovered and it is proving to be a boon for the patients and their families.
Dementia is a major concern for the elderly. Though, it is not a fatal disease, it might turn out to be quite deadly under the wrong circumstances, should a patient forget or get lost, and wander into heavy traffic. To help them, Tokyo-based firm Saitama Prefecture has come out a solution in form of QR codes or scan codes.
The company is manufacturing small water-resistant QR code stickers that can be attached on the patients’ fingernails. Should they wander out without an assistant, when found by people, the code can be scanned and the necessary details of the patient — name, address, emergency telephone number and unique identity number — can be accessed, and steps taken to get the person to safety. The small 1cm sticker that “remain(s) attached for an average of two weeks, can be more discreet than other items such as badges as they can be attached to toenails and worn beneath socks,” reports the BBC.
“The initiative, which uses a system of QR codes, was set up to help reunite family members with their elderly loved ones in the event that they go missing, according to the Iruma welfare office,” the report added. This one-of-its-kind initiative in Japan was been launched this month for free.
“Being able to attach the seals on nails is a great advantage,” a city worker told the Japan Times. “There are already ID stickers for clothes or shoes but dementia patients are not always wearing those items”.
Life expectancy in Japan has increased over the years with increasing advancement in medical services and facilities, but the rise in people with old age has also increased the people affected by dementia in the country. In fact, the figures are quite alarming. The National Police Agency reported earlier this year that more than 12,000 patients went missing in 2015, with hundreds of those later found dead. In 2016, the number of missing people due to dementia was record high.
According to Alzheimer’s Association, Japan, more 4.6 million people are living with dementia in the country. This is expected to increase in the coming years as more people above the age of 65 will outnumber those young. As the country is grappling under the severe situation, the police started offering discounts for noodles at local restaurants to elderly people who agreed to hand over their driving licences.
As round-the-clock care facilities and treatments are quite expensive many people feel burdened by the cost involve thereby making these patients quite vulnerable.
Should this initiative of the QR code stickers prove viable, other countries can consider this new product as well.