Sunday, February 17, 2013

Will Japan honor its Older People in 2013 and Beyond?

According to Wikipedia, the aging of Japan is thought to outweigh all other nations, as the country is purported to have the highest proportion of elderly citizens.  One out of five elders is over the age of 65 today. The age 65 and above demographic group increased from 26.5 million in 2006 to 29.47 million in 2011, an 11.2% increase. The Japanese Health Ministry estimates the nation's total population will decrease by 25% from 127.8 million in 2005 to 95.2 million by 2050. Japan's elderly population, aged 65 or older, comprised 20% of the nation's population in June 2006, a percentage that is forecast to increase to 38% by 2055.

What does this mean for older Japanese citizens?  While the number of nursing homes has increased, it is still insufficient to serve all those who are on waiting lists.  Employers find it hard to hire caregivers since candidates can find easier and more highly paid work. 

Japan is spending half its health budget on older persons. . .and the once very prosperous nation has a huge financial deficit. Now the government has introduced a new health insurance scheme with special cards for those over 75 years old; however, elders don’t like to be singled out; they call it the “hurry up and die” program.
Just under a third of Japanese 85 year olds have Alzheimer’s or another dementia which matches the rate in the UK.

The Japanese dilemma now lies ahead for all major world economies. A rapid growth in the oldest citizens is a success story for humankind.  However, it can also create a heavy responsibility for families if governments have ignored the growing financial  and social obligations to their elder citizens.  In Japan, as in many parts of the world, the debate is now how the obligation should be met.
What's happening in your country?  Do you feel that your govenrment has programs and funds in place to extend appropriate care to you in your old age?  Please send Global Action on Aging your ideas and comments.
Have a good week,
Susanne Paul for Global Action on Aging

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