The annual increase in people suffering from dementia all over the world has raised awareness in many societies as well as international bodies about the progressive loss of cognitive functions in men and women
To address the issue, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recognised the illness, which registers 7.7 million new cases each year, as a public health priority.
Aware of the serious nature of the problem, the Japanese company Wish Hills had the idea to create a product to be used across the nation, taking into account the fact that almost of quarter of the Japanese population is older than 65.
They came up with idea of shoes that use the Global Positioning System (GPS) to help locate elderly people suffering from dementia, which impairs the lives of 47.5 million people across the world.
The shoes, which has been given the name “GPS Dokodemo Shoes”, contain a tracker installed within the sole of the left shoe which sends notifications when the elderly person strays more than 50, 100 or 500 metres from home, explained a company spokesperson.
“We have experience in searching for lost dementia patients, and we know that they typically do not carry mobile phones or watches. However, they do wear shoes and this is key to us being able to help relatives to find their loved ones.”
As to whether the Japanese are accepting of this worthy initiative, the company said that sales of the GPS shoes have been promising.
Once they are purchased, user details must be configured along with an operating system used as a control mechanism. Carers just have to enter the ID number of the device and a password in order to discover the patient’s location.
The product is selling very well, mainly among women in their fifties who have an elderly relative with dementia, stated the firm.
Dementia and progress
The progressive loss of cognitive functions due to brain damage or brain disorders is a serious problem that affects human beings around the world. It causes physical, psychological, social and economic impacts for carers, families and society.
So much so that between 5-8% of the world population above 65 years old are said to suffer from this disease which makes people unable to carry out the activities of their daily lives.
When should we be worried about the onset of dementia? According to experts, brain cell deterioration causes symptoms such as forgetfulness, losing track of time, and a lack of spatial awareness even in familiar places.
Although new treatments are being investigated, what’s certain is that, at present, this illness cannot be cured nor can its progress be reversed.
As such, scientists insist on fighting against risk factors associated with vascular disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity in middle age, smoking and lack of physical activity.
In March 2015, during the First Ministerial Conference on Global Action Against Dementia, Director-General of the World Health Organisation Margaret Chan declared that the world is seeing a wave of dementia.
To address the issue, she called for greater investment in finding a cure and improving the quality of life of this group of people who, according to calculations, will number more than 75.6 million in 2030 and 135.5 million by 2050.
It is estimated that at least 19 countries currently have in place a national plan against dementia, but WHO believes that these countries need to establish specific initiatives focussed on raising awareness about the condition and its risk factors.
“We have been running behind the curve with dementia for a long time,” said Chan, “but several recent events tell us we are catching up.” She added that to do this, they will need the commitment of all governments.
With the aim of promoting further research into improving dementia treatment this year, the first global fund against dementia has been created.
The initiative, which is being led by the government of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Alzheimer Research UK foundation, has seen an initial investment of more than $100 million. (PL)
(Photos from Pixabay and Wikimedia)
(Translated by Jessica Parsons)