An Aging World : Elder Care in Japan
MetadataShow full item record
As the world ages, so do the people inhabiting it. Many countries are facing an aging crisis; where the populations are aging rapidly and the birth rate is declining just as quickly. This is an unsustainable situation and causes many problems for the countries facing it. One of the problems with an aging population is that there will soon be no one to care for the elderly. A country that is a prime example of this predicament is Japan. For example, the United States' birth rate has dipped down to the lowest it has ever been at a staggering 1. 76 while average life expectancy is at 78.7 years old as of2018. Japan soon shall be comprised of more people aged 65 and over than ever. When there are not enough young people to care for the aged, who or what will take on this task? The answer lies in many different places, but two possible solutions are as follows: immigration and robotics. Japan has a very complicated relationship with immigration. Historically, Japan has been a closed country, preferring instead to be autonomous. It is difficult for those that wish to immigrate to Japan, even to fill jobs that are needed most. Nursing is one such job. Becoming a nurse is not a very glamorous job in Japan and many young people prefer jobs that pay more and are not as hands on. Robotics is the other proposed solution, a relatively new field. There have been innovations designed specifically for use in geriatrics and with people that have disabilities. P ARO is one such robot that has been tested extensively with positive results. P ARO was designed with emotional and mental care of the patients in mind. There are other robots that are designed not with emotional care in mind, but physical. Toyota has designed a robot' that can lift and carry a patient to various places within a certain space, i.e. a hospital. Likewise, there are products that are not robots in the popular sense but also use technology to accomplish helping tasks. These products are referred to as "Silver products" and are used by elders to retain autonomy for as long as possible. To fully understand the nuances of the aging crisis in Japan, one must start with what eldercare has been and how it has evolved.