As India moves closer to becoming the most populous country in the next 7 years, the country is facing another serious concern, that of an ageing population. According to some studies, India is ageing faster and may have nearly 20 per cent population of 60 years and above by 2050. The government recently stated in Parliament that India will have 34 crore people above 60 years of age by 2050 that would be more than the total population of the US.
A large population of elderly in India do not get long-term care due to several reasons. Japan, home to a sizable ageing population has been rigorously using IoT technology to support this demographic. It is time for India to adopt some of these to solutions too.
How Japan Helps Its Aging Population
Dementia: For dementia, there are IoT devices deployed that can track progress of various health conditions. For example, it has shoes and bags equipped with smart tags for patients with dementia, that repeatedly wander off. For people with this condition, it also has UHF tags in hospital bed sheets to alert administrators about when it is time for disposal. Mitsufuji has developed clothing, with IoT sensors embedded inside. Under its brand name of AGposs, it has clothes of nylon covered with silver, so it acts as both thread and metal. When wearing the Hamon smartwear, it can be used to monitor biometric information like breathing and heart rate, and temperature, humidity, acceleration and gyroscope data. The fabric also has a transmitter attached to it for the transfer of data to mobile devices and cloud platforms.
Preventing Heart Attacks: Mitsufuji, in collaboration with researchers has developed algorithms that work with Hamon smartwear to predict the possibility of a heat stroke. Japan has also been applying technology to activities like yoga, weightlifting. It has also been applying in industrial purposes and for factory workers. “Hamon can monitor heart rate in a more stable fashion than existing wristband-style wearables,” says Mitsufuji CEO Ayumu Mitera. “We will be able to detect heat stroke by using this technology, and it can also send alerts to care managers about heart attacks.”
Diabetics: As per a study of 2,000 diabetes patients, aged between 20-75 has been helping patients with diabetes. The participants measure their weight, activity level, number of steps taken and blood pressure on a daily basis, via blood pressure monitors, pedometers, and body composition monitors that send the data directly to an app called Shichifukujin. Once the data is generated by users it is uploaded for their physicians to monitor. IoT devices make it possible for physicians to track vital patient data between clinical visits. Researchers hope to develop more sophisticated IoT data algorithms that would send users messages about increasing their activity or seeking further help. Meanwhile, the technology could also be used to study other lifestyle diseases, such as hypertension and hyperlipidemia.
What India Can Learn
Indian population has several cases regarding the issue of health among its aging population. It faces the problem of heatwave very often. It’s vulnerable to temperature increases associated with climate change. Since 1992, about 25,000 Indians are estimated to have died because of heatwaves. The heatwave in May 2010 in Ahmedabad killed more than 1,100 people. “The first thing was making people aware that heat can kill,” Parthasarathi Ganguly, a professor of public health and former World Health Organisation official had said.
With as many as 50 million people suffering from type-2 diabetes, India has a challenge to face. India represents 49% of the world’s diabetes burden, with an estimated 72 million cases in 2017, a figure expected to almost double to 134 million by 2025. According to a report, India has the second highest number of individuals suffering from dementia with an estimated 4.1 million people suffering from it, with a number expected to double by 2035. India can adopt technologies of Japan to address and help with these problems that the elderly face in the country.
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