Many older adults still homebound after 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake

A new study, published online in the journal Age and Ageing today, shows that the homebound status of adults over the age of 65 in the aftermath of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake is still a serious public health concern. Of 2,327 older adults surveyed, approximately 20% were found to be homebound.

A team of researchers led by Naoki Kondo of the University of Tokyo’s School of Public Health studied data from the city of Rikuzentakata, an area that was seriously damaged by the disaster. Of its total population of 23,302 before the events of 2011, 1,773 people died or are still missing. Of 7,730 houses, 3,368 (43.6%) were affected with 3,159 “completely destroyed”. Much of the population had been concentrated in flat coastal areas, and since the community infrastructure was totally shattered, many people who lost their houses insisted on moving to areas in the mountains. Continue reading

Japanese lessons on dementia care

Dr Mayumi Hayashi is a Leverhulme early career fellow in the Institute of Gerontology at King’s College London. She discusses the Japanese approach towards dementia care and suggests lessons for the UK.shutterstock_124335502

Last year, the British coalition government emphasised the need to improve dementia care, with David Cameron launching his “challenge on dementia“, which identified three major goals: better health and care, fostering “dementia-friendly” communities, and improved research. Initial successes included a substantial increase in primary care trust funding for dementia care, but subsequent cuts in government spending resulted in reduced funding for the condition. Discussions in Whitehall about finding new, yet cost-effective, initiatives have been informed by Japan’s experience. There, politicians and policy makers have focused on educating the public (even the term “dementia” was outlawed) by recruiting and mobilising volunteer dementia “supporters”, and implementing a new national compulsory long-term care insurance system, offering enhanced services for people with dementia. Continue reading