Apr 04, 2023

Micro-Wearable sticker detects the silent killer in aged care

Optmo
Partnership with @QldGov and @ANUmedia in a $30 million project to support the production of Microwearables at a new Queensland facility. (Source: WeareOptimo Twitter)

An Australian company is trialling a wearable hydration sensor that could revolutionise aged care by preventing dehydration in elderly patients.

The “micro-wearable” sticker technology includes a small, adhesive patch that can detect health markers in real-time, without the need for painful needle pricks.

This non-invasive technology has a significant impact on aged care as it allows for easy and continuous monitoring of elderly patients’ health, including detecting the onset of health complications.

WearOptimo founder and CEO, Professor Mark Kendall, told Channel 9 that dehydration is a “silent killer” which contributes to one in four hospitalizations of elderly people. 

“About half of the things that go wrong for people in aged care settings are directly attributed to poorly managed hydration,” he said. 

“If you’re 3% dehydrated, it has the same effect on your brain function as being over the blood alcohol limit.”

Biomedical engineer Chloe Turell, who is leading the trials, said the wearable patches could advise caregivers when a patient’s hydration levels reach dangerously low levels, helping to prevent health complications. 

“Dehydration becomes a bigger issue as patients pass the age of 50, because the sensors in the body that tell them to drink start to deteriorate,” she added.

Once notified that a person’s hydration levels are too low, they can instantly be monitored and supported to drink more water or seek further medical attention if necessary.

The technology has been designed to penetrate just the outer layer of the skin using microscopic electrodes that are invisible to the naked eye. 

The volunteers at the Queensland University of Technology will wear the sensors while performing physical activities in high temperatures, enabling researchers to monitor hydration levels in real-time.

The device’s potential in aged care has been noted, with Kendall highlighting that it could prevent “unpredictable and serious” health complications such as heart attacks. 

“This is a really big deal in some applications such as workplace health and safety where workers are exposed to some pretty rough environmental conditions,” Turell added. 

“We’re able to give them data in real-time where dehydration is known as a silent killer.”

Development of the technology has been aided by a $30m funding boost from the Queensland Government two years ago, and its success in aged care could have a significant impact on improving the well-being of elderly patients.

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  1. This is the best most needed thing ever for hospitals an Aged care. 38 years in the industry has seen the numbers of staff reduce over past decades. no time to administer meals an drinks has been observed on daily basis. Meals removed by kitchen staff not eaten. Industry reliant on family often both in acute an aged care.

  2. What a fantastic idea,my husband is in a nursing home and it would help him ,how long before they are available? .

  3. Sadly, more tech will not help when you have inadequate staff to assist with the hydration. It does not matter how many monitors, alarms, bells or whistles you have if you don’t have enough staff to assist the frail individuals to maintain adequate hydration. This solution moves much needed finance into the hands of tech companies and away from staffing budgets.

  4. Very innovative. This could reduce hospital admissions from aged care facilities and reduce stress on the overwhelmed hospitals. Please contact me if you are looking for a facility to partake in the trial.

  5. This is an excellent development. My husband has Huntington’s Disease and is in a nursing home.

    His intermittent agitated condition has been diagnosed by his medical specialist as dehydration induced delirium.

    After he has several glasses of fluids, the delerium retreats leaving hubby bright and alert. I bet this applies to many folk in aged care but dehydration goes undiagnosed so many people prematurely from an easily reversible condition ie dehydration.

    Carers in aged care are not trained to recognise dehydration. Carers also have accepted delerium and behaviour disturbance as normal when it is not.

    The Wear Optimo patch had the potential to save so many lives because carers will check it and give residents more fluid. Due to lack of aged care education, carers are very task oriented so having to regularly check and report on the patch will change the carers attitude quite quickly as it is an easily understood task.

    So instead of residents ‘waiting for death’ due to dehydration caused by ignorance, residents will be hydrated properly and have a much better quality of life.

    As a retired acute care nurse I have been disturbed when seeing the possible correlation of early deaths in aged care and dehydration of residents in aged care facilities.

    The Wear Optimo patch will be a game changer.

    When will the patch be available, what price and where can it be purchased?

  6. The Wear Optimo patch will be a game changer and something in need for myself age 51 with heart and brain disease

    When will the patch be available?what price ? and where can it be purchased? Please

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