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Where a Thousand Digital Eyes Keep Watch Over the Elderly


One of about 1,200 digital surveillance units in Itami, Japan.

Itami is one of several localities that have turned to electronic tracking as Japan, the world’s grayest nation, confronts an epidemic of dementia.

Credit: Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Over 1,000 sensors line the streets of the Itami suburb of Osaka, Japan, as part of an effort to track elderly people with dementia.

In Itami, one of several localities that have deployed electronic tracking in a nation with the world's oldest population and the highest proportion of people with dementia, the system records a person's location through a beacon hidden on their person.

Family members can locate them easily if they wander off.

Although the idea is to help those with dementia retain some independence, there are concerns about informed consent, especially when it can be hard to determine whether a person with dementia can give it.

Miki Sato, diagnosed with dementia three years ago at age 43, helped develop a location tracking app to assist people with dementia as they shop for groceries. Sato said, "The most important thing is that it's that person's choice."

From The New York Times
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Abstracts Copyright © 2022 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


 

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