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RFID Tracks Elderly Dementia Patients in Residential Care

At nursing homes or assisted-living communities, which specialize in serving elderly dementia patients, the single most troubling day-to-day problem revolves around disoriented patients deciding they want to go home and quietly leaving the facility on their own, what care professionals term elopement. Without any clear memory of their actual former home, not to mention no longer retaining any true sense of direction, a patient who evades staff and walks off the grounds can quickly descend into panic. Frantic staff scramble to track them down before they wander into harm. For patients chronically prone to elopement behavior, the only viable solution had been to physically restrict them to locked rooms, isolated from other residents and activities at the facility, a solitary confinement, which in many cases accelerated their mental and overall decline.

 Solution: RFID Patient Tracking

Other facilities have sought more humane alternatives for monitoring patients’ real-time whereabouts. A clear opportunity for adapting electronic monitoring technology, RFID tracking has proven to be the ideal choice. Passive LF tags can be embedded into bracelets worn by each patient, or sewn into clothing or attached to shoe soles. Scanners and antennas discreetly positioned at exit points, or sensitive parts of the facility, such as kitchens or other potentially dangerous spaces, are then linked to custom software applications which immediately alert staff that they’ve ventured beyond their designated safe areas.

Protecting patients from elopement and internal hazards safeguards caregivers and management from liability issues inherent to every care facility. Even for assisted-living residents who still maintain their essential cognitive functions, RFID tracking systems can serve as an early warning of the onset of dementia. Landmark research by the University of South Florida outfitted nursing home residents with RFID-equipped bracelets, monitoring their movements around their care facility for telltale physical symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease, extended wandering, sudden veering movements or continual stops-and-starts. [1]

Researchers correlated these findings with standard menal screening tests, enabling those patients who exhibited those early warning signs to enter treatment to stave off the debilitation of Alzheimer’s as long as possible.Over subsequent years, RFID technology and applications for dementia patients have continued to evolve. One proposed alternative to external tagging is a tiny scannable RFID microchip, roughly the size of a grain of rice, implanted beneath the patient’s skin, very similar to electronic ID methods now used for household pets. [2]

While many affected patients and their caregivers welcome any additional safety options, some healthcare professional and medical ethicists debate whether permanent electronic identification of humans, particularly in cases where such tagging is unknown to the patient, crosses boundaries of medical confidentiality, and personal privacy. At Syrma, we view dementia patient safety as a particularly important facet of RFID healthcare tracking applications, and we look forward to continuing to devote our design and engineering resources to develop all necessary tags, readers and custom tracking software for OEMs serving elder care markets.

Backed by 40 Years of Expertise

We contribute our 40 years of design and manufacturing expertise spanning multiple diverse markets, and we look forward to discussing how we can deliver world-class products for OEMs across the globe. We understand our home India market, familiar with its vast regulatory and selling environments. We foster growth opportunities within India through our strong technology incubation ecosystem. We also assist global OEMs seeking to enter the India market by leveraging the local supply chain and favorable operating environments for cost reductions.

Our flagship Chennai location opened in 2006 and lies within a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for electronics manufacturing, offering economic incentives for imports and exports. This primary facility is within 90 minutes of the Chennai seaport and 20 minutes to the international airport, with additional road and rail, connectivity linking to the rest of India and beyond, as well as infrastructure advantages with faster import and export clearances. We also have labor force availability, both technical and manual, to rapidly scale to client demand.

To learn more about this topic, please contact us.

Syrma TechnologyRFID Tracks Elderly Dementia Patients in Residential Care

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