Elderly dementia sufferers are tagged with BARCODES in Japan so they can be identified and returned to relatives if they get lost

  • A Japanese city north of Tokyo has developed tiny nails stickers with a QR code
  • These have been designed especially to help senior citizens with dementia
  • The stickers serve as barcodes so families can track down their loved ones
  • Important telephone numbers and other information is embedded in the sticker 

A Japanese city has introduced a novel way to keep track of senior citizens with dementia who are prone to getting lost: tagging their fingers and toes with scan-able barcodes.

A company in Iruma, north of Tokyo, developed tiny nail stickers, each of which carries a unique identity number to help concerned families find missing loved ones, according to the city's social welfare office.

The adhesive QR-coded seals for nails, part of a free service launched this month and a first in Japan, measure just one centimetre (0.4 inches) in size.

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A Japanese city has introduced a novel way to keep track of senior citizens with dementia: tagging their fingers and toes with scan-able barcodes. Pictured, a city officer displays a QR code on his fingernail near the Iruma city hall in Iruma

'Being able to attach the seals on nails is a great advantage,' an official told AFP.

'There are already ID stickers for clothes or shoes but dementia patients are not always wearing those items.'

If an elderly person becomes disorientated, police will find the local city hall, a telephone number and the wearer's ID all embedded in the QR code.

The chips remain attached for an average of two weeks even if they get wet, the official said, citing recent trials.

Japan is grappling with a rapidly ageing population with senior citizens expected to make up a whopping 40 per cent of the population around 2060.

Last month, Japanese police started offering noodle discounts at local restaurants to elderly citizens who agreed to hand in their driving licences.

The offer followed a series of deadly accidents involving elderly drivers: a growing problem in a country where 4.8 million people aged 75 or older hold a licence.

The chips remain attached for an average of two weeks, even if they get wet. Pictured, a city officer scans a fingernail QR code with a smartphone

The World Health Organization says 36 million people around the world suffer from some form of dementia, most of them with Alzheimers

Vulnerable women with dementia are being abandoned in old age by a health system offering them worse care than men, a major report concluded last week.

Female dementia patients are seen less frequently by their GPs than men, are not given the same checks and tests, and are more regularly given sedative drugs to control behaviour.

Experts at University College London, who examined the health records of 68,000 dementia patients over a decade, found a significant gulf in care between men and women.

Charities said the findings raised 'grave concerns' about the state of dementia care for women and called for GPs to pay special attention to female dementia patients.


Older people at risk of loneliness should be signed up to walking groups and encouraged to help children read in school, an NHS watchdog has said.

NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, is calling for public bodies to work together to tackle loneliness in old age. It says councils and the voluntary sector should identify the lonely, who may include the recently widowed, those who live alone with little opportunity to socialise and those who have given up driving.

Health officials recommend dancing or swimming clubs, arts and walking groups and community choirs.

And it suggests younger people could be encouraged to befriend the older generation, such as helping them use new technologies. Retired people could return the favour, going into schools to help children read.

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive of NICE, said: 'Everyone is affected differently by aging and whilst many older people can remain independent we need to do more to help those who can't.'


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