German researchers have developed a thirst sensor designed to alert the elderly when they need to drink water in order to avoid dehydration.
The device evaluates the relationship between bodily fat, water and bone mass, emitting a signal when the body has too little water.
Four tiny contact strips are attached to the skin, constantly recording data and relaying it to a pocketbook-sized apparatus carried next to the body.
"Older people lose their sense of thirst," according to Marian Walter, the scientist in charge of the project at Aachen's Technical University. "They no longer have a dry feeling in their mouth and therefore don't drink enough."
One of the reasons for this is a change in the body's hormone makeup, according to Walter.
Lack of fluids in the body leads to dehydration, which in turn can affect kidney functions, heartbeat, blood circulation and a person's memory.
A prototype is currently being tested but it is expected to take five years before the sensor is available in the market.