China Issues QR Code Badges to Seniors to Help Them Get Home

China Issues QR Code Badges to Seniors to Help Them Get Home

Clever way to help the elderly if they get lost while out walking on their own

Ross Brooks
  • 21 august 2014

Keeping hold of your independence is an important part of growing old, but for some people, diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s can make that a difficult task. In a bid to help seniors who get lost while out walking, China has come up with the idea for QR codes embedded with information that makes it easy for passersby to assist seniors getting home. It might sound strange, but think of the difficulty of finding where someone lives with no information to go off.

Distributed by Dingxiang Community in Anhui Province, the badges feature a QR code as well as some text that reads, “Please scan it and help me back home.” So far, 50 people from the local area have been given the badges, with plans for the scheme to cover more than 1,400 residents aged above 60 in the future. “I’ll wear it every time I go out. A big headache for us old people is wandering off,” says user Qiao Zonglian, an 84-year-old woman.

Each code holds information about the owner, such as their ID card number, family contact numbers and the district where they live. All you need to lend a helping hand is a smartphone that can scan QR codes. While it’s possible to carry the badge, made of durable plastic, the local authority has also developed a version that can be stitched onto clothes – which lowers the chances of losing it.


Due to health problems, the elderly may easily become lost or suffer a sudden illness when away from home, Ling Rui, a community worker, tells XinHua News, adding, “In these situations, it’s very important for strangers willing to help to immediately identify the person.” This sentiment is echoed by Ye Yunxia, who wished the QR codes had been available soon. One night her husband wandered off, and despite her children searching all night, only managed to find him the next morning. “My husband was wet from the rain and had a fever. He’s still recovering. I believe the code could be really useful to the elderly,” Ye says.

With an underdeveloped healthcare systems, and a rapidly ageing population, the QR codes could offer a cheap and easy-to-implement method for safeguarding elderly citizens. To give you an idea of how quickly the problem will grow: there were 194 million people over 60, nearly 15 percent of its population, by the end of 2012, and the number is expected to hit 243 million in 2020.

[h/t] Springwise, Xinhua News


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