Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Using Technology and Tradition to Help People with Dementia

Japan is most to approximately 5 million people with dementia, and in 2015 over 12,000 people with dementia went missing. People with dementia can become disoriented and wander off, and though most of them are found, some of them never make it home. Now Iruma, a city in Japan, has launched a free service that will help people with dementia make it back home:
A local company developed one-inch waterproof QR code stickers that can be affixed to a person’s fingernails or toenails. The stickers last about two weeks before deteriorating. The idea is that if a person is disoriented and lost, police can easily obtain their personal information, such as an address and telephone number, by scanning the sticker’s code.

This might sound a little creepy or even dystopian, but it’s a practice that’s fairly common among this subset of the population. Related products, such as shoes equipped with a GPS device that send a family member a message if the wearer leaves a set area, are used in Japan and elsewhere. In North America and Europe, companies have marketed wristbands with GPS tracking for people with dementia.
In fact, there are many devices that family members can use to make sure their loved ones are safe. For instance, one device is a teapot sensor that sends an alert if the teapot hasn't been used for a certain amount of time - since people in Japan drink tea regularly, this is one way technology has been combined with tradition to do some good.

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