Fingernail QR codes to keep track of dementia sufferers in Japan

The Japanese city of Iruma has developed a QR code tagging system for elderly dementia patients at risk of getting lost, the BBC reported.

The QR barcode stickers, 1cm (0.4in) square in size can be attached to fingers and toes. According to an official, the new method is more effective and discreet than the existing system in which sufferers put ID stickers on clothes or shoes as “dementia patients are not always wearing those items.” The new stickers are also water-resistant and remain attached for an average of two weeks.

The information held in the code includes an address, telephone number and unique identity number for each user. The service is free and will be launched this month, BBC News said.

“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 said. “The technology allows police to obtain details of a person’s local city hall, along with contact telephone numbers and personal details, simply by scanning the code.”

More than a quarter of Japanese citizens are aged 65 or over and the number of dementia sufferers is increasing. According to a Guardian report in June, the disorder currently affects 4.6 million people in Japan. The number is expected to rise to 7 million – one in five people aged 65 or over – by 2025.

A record number of people with dementia were reported missing in Japan in 2015, according to the national police agency. Of the more than 12,000, most were found within a week, but 479 were found dead and 150 are still missing.

Last year, the Japanese government announced it planned spend 22.5bn yen (£152.3m) in 2016 to train more specialists, improve early diagnosis and expand community-based care to relieve the pressure on family members who have to give up work to become carers.

Source: BBC; The Guardian

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