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.
“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.