カレッジリンク

Hitting the campus: How Japan tackles issue
 
  2008年1月12日号 The Straits Times
 
 
 

IN JAPAN,silver-haired citizens and college students will soon study and lunch side by side in Kansai university,Osaka.

The elderly are in their late 60s and 70s,and belong to a new college-linked residential community to be launched this June.

Called Club Encourage,the facility provides independent living units as well as nursing care. It is located in Mikage,which is 30 minutes away from the university campus.

Every day, the more independent seniors will be ferried by shuttle bus to school where they will attend lessons on history, philosophy and music alongside younger university students.

By interacting with the students,the elderly are exposed to stimuli that will keep their minds active, said Dr Hiroyuki Murata,an opinion leader on ageing issues in Japan and management committee member of Club Encourage.

Dr Murata, who was speaking at the Silver Industry Conference yesterday, highlighted this project as one of the many creative solutions being designed in Japan to cope with its rapidly graying population.

Nearly one in five Japanese is older than 65 because of declining birth rates and greater longevity.Dr Murata said research done by the Japanese government showed that 71 percent of Japanese who are older than65 do not want to burden their children and prefer to live on their own.

Also,the physical distance between parents and their children is growing.To help close this gap, the I-Pot,an electronic teapot,is able to help children keep track of their elderly parents'well-being discreetly.It notes the times of use of the teapot, and sends the data to the recipient's mobile phone.A period of inactivity, for example, may suggest that something is amiss.

Dr Murata also said that more job opportunities are being created for the elderly.Pointing to Japanese company Irodori, which specializes in leaves and flowers as food garnishes, he said it employs older workers to pluck persimmon and maple leaves that are then sold to restaurants.

Another organization, the Silver Personnel Center, which specializes in job placement for the elderly, has a voluntary neighborhood watch group made up of elderly men.Using bicycles, patrol areas near school, keeping a look-out for suspicious characters who could harm the children.


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