CareGiving and Getting in Tokyo

Given that pensioners do not appear to be the highest priority in Tokyo, 70 year old Tasaka Keichi decided to try to make a positive impact on that situation.  Especially given the demographics in Japan, which is encountering a fast-declining birthrate and growing elderly population, rendering it a “super aged” nation (meaning that more than 1 in 5 of the population is 65+).  And what’s good about Keichi is that his age helps him relate to the Cross Hearts nursing home residents.

Given this aging situation and the fact that there is thus a shortage of caretakers available for this demographic, Japanese officials are encouraging stay-at-home moms and retirees to go back to the workforce, in particular with the elderly.  So for someone like Keichi, he will firstly feel useful (at a time when people of 70 are beginning to feel their usefulness decline), help the elderly with transportation to day care centers, companionship, etc., and ease the burden on the country’s need for such workers.

In addition, the Japanese are trying to increase the retirement age from 60/65 to 75.  Because currently over 80 percent of companies have 60 and the law passed in 2013 to raise it to 65 is only coming into effect in 2025. What ends up happening in this situation is bad for seniors. Companies needing additional workers following the retirement of the “old” people just re-hire the seniors but give them a lower wage, according to Keio University’s economist Atsushi Seike.

What has been found now – with elderly individuals like Keichi returning to the workforce – is that nursing home residents are substantially benefiting from like-minded people helping them.  The elderly helping elderly understand what it is to lose something or someone; from one’s role in society to the death of friends and family members.

So now this situation is helping two-fold:  with active seniors who do not want to retire and feel useful as well as seniors going to nursing homes who want to relate to their caretakers.  Maybe Japan can start becoming a model for other countries.