Devices that Don’t let Elderly Forget

Two transaxial slices through the head. The right image shows a normal brain; the left has differences that are interpreted as indication of Alzheimer's diseaseImage via Wikipedia

Equipped with devices such as a misplaced goods detector and a beeping pill case, a model house near Tokyo shows that a little bit of technology can help dementia patients live more independently.

“The greatest merit of these welfare devices is that the patients can do things on their own…rather than relying on other people,” said Takenobu Inoue, a director at the National Rehabilitation Centre for Persons with Disabilities, which runs the model house.

Dementia is a significant loss of mental skills that affect daily life, and is caused by factors such as strokes, tumours, head injuries and Alzheimer’s disease. The disease may weigh on heavy in Japan, where the population is ageing rapidly.

The government estimates that dementia patients in Japan will reach 3.2 million in 2025 from around 1.7 million in 2005. A majority of the 58 devices exhibited at the model house, which opened in December, came from European countries where research started over a decade ago, Inoue said.

In the kitchen, a gas stove made in Britain would speak and tell the user to turn off the gas if it senses anything burning. In the living room is the misplaced goods detector, which looks like a silver remote control.

By attaching small, colourful tags to things that people often misplace – such as mobile phones or keys – the detector can locate them by beeping.

There is also a pill case that notifies the user when it’s time for medicine by beeping and flashing a light. “Most people involved in dementia care in Japan do not know that there are devices that support the cognitive functions and help the daily lives of the patients,” Inoue said. “We hope to link the users and the developers of such devices to exchange information.”

Sources: The Times Of India

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