- Title: QR codes to help find Japanese dementia patients who go missing
- Date: 30th December 2016
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF ELDERLY PEOPLE WALKING
- Embargoed: 14th January 2017 12:12
- Keywords: QR QR code identity missing persons dementia Irumashi
- Location: IRUMASHI, JAPAN / LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
- Reuters ID: LVA0025F2P4D7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The Japanese city of Irumashi has embarked on a project to track dementia sufferers via the use of QR (quick response) codes. City officials are offering the free service of attaching the codes to the thumbnails and toenails of dementia sufferers, so that missing patients can be easily identified if found.
QR codes are a machine-readable optical label first designed for the Japanese automotive industry.
The patient codes contain an address, contact number and the individual's national identification number. Once attached, the QR codes will remain attached for up to two weeks before being replaced.
Previously identity stickers and labels had been attached to dementia patient's clothes, but these items easily became lost. Often, when individuals were found, they were not wearing the labelled items of clothing.
Dementia sufferers had also been given GPS (global positioning system) devices to track their location. However, individuals who found the patients were unable to help return the patients to their home.
According to Hasegawa Nao, a manager at Irumashi city hall, "we already have stickers that can be attached to clothes or shoes but when they change those stickers cannot be with them. So, the biggest merit of QR codes is that the codes are able to be attached to the patients all the time whenever they go and whatever they wear."
According to city officials, more than one quarter of Irumashi's population are aged 65 and over, with many at risk of developing dementia.
Across Japan the issue known as "Haikai koureisha", or "roaming elderly", has become a serious problem for authorities attempting to reunite lost individuals with their families.
"When dementia sufferers get lost, their family feels embarrassed to raise their voice to neighbours," said Nao. "By using the QR codes and other projects we are working on, we can help those patients and their family members. Helping each other, the people living in Irumashi, the police, and ourselves can help the region."
Local residents appear to be enthusiastic about the new project.
"I would love to use the system," said 63-year-old Irumashi resident Kouke Machiko. "My mother passed away at the age of 94 and it was a real struggle to take care of her, even though she was not suffering from dementia. I really think this helpful system should be introduced."
Fellow resident Marouka Harumi concurred. "My 68 aged aunt-in-law is living next to my house, so there might be a case of her getting lost in the future. I feel more relieved to hear that the QR code system has been introduced," she said.
The service will be free of charge and is currently in its trial period.
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