Japan: who cares now for elderly?

Japan has the second oldest (on average by %) population in the world–23% are 65+–and much of it disproportionately located in rural areas affected by the earthquake and following tsunami. Ed. Donna’s scan of the press has thus far located little on the tragic effects of these events on the elderly who live in those destroyed towns and villages, especially those who need care. Only now are the details emerging. CNN.com’s article is particularly detailed on their bravery but also the long-term effects on their care. The Guardian.co.uk details the plight of older people found in a hospital and in a retirement home; an overlapping but updated article is from AP at HuffPo painting a grim picture of survivors fending mainly for themselves in gyms and schools with minimal care. There is the unanswered question: what do the old do when their families, caregivers, homes, medications, records and entire way of life, at the end of life, are swept away? What priority are they given? Unlike Haiti, there is little on mobile health simply because Japan itself is so ‘wired’, but what does one do when the cellphone, which can serve as ‘alternate memory’ and lifeline, is gone, along with the paper and the computers where electronic records, if any, were stored? Readers are invited to follow up with further news and commentary.

1 thought on “Japan: who cares now for elderly?

  1. I suspect it will be a while before much more detail appears because this is not (yet) the headline grabbing part of the disaster which has engulfed Japan.

    It is however a timely reminder that whilst most of us will never encounter such an overwhelming disaster we are not always very thoughtful in our disaster and business continuity planning.

    The heavy snow fall in December in East Scotland caused several Local and Health Authorities to undertake a review of disaster planning for delivering services in these circumstances … simple measures such as working in locality teams, whichever authority the staff belonged to; accessing sledges to move equipment to service user’s homes from our response vehicles (which might have coped better if they were 4x4s); and considering how our communication systems withstood the additional traffic.

    It is too easy to say “it’s a once in a hundred year event … so it won’t happen within my career” but none of us know what will happen tomorrow so perhaps we should each review how much we are leaving to chance and how much we might be able to retain control over in that event, however unlikely we think it is to happen.

    Thanks for providing these links Donna … harrowing stuff but often the things that get overlooked.

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