Japan’s seniors call for communities to prevent loneliness

A total of 5,300 elderly people, in the 27th National Conference of Elderly held in Tsu City in Mie Prefecture, on September 13 affirmed that they will start a movement to create communities to help prevent lonely seniors.

The two-day conference adopted a resolution calling for the cancellation of an adverse revision of medical care services and the pension program which the Abe Cabinet is seeking to go ahead with.

On the first day, about 40 workshops and related events took place.

At a symposium on solitary deaths among the aged, Shinozaki Tsuguo serving as a coordinator of the symposium pointed out that lonely seniors are not only those who live alone but those who have little or no social connections.

Shinozaki stressed the importance of a movement to build communities to help each other in dealing with difficulties facing the elderly people on a daily basis.

Participants talked about their various experiences and activities. People from health co-operatives reported on their efforts in cooperation with fire companies, municipal offices, temples, local social welfare councils, and neighborhood associations to prevent elderly people from being left alone and isolated from the community. A woman from Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward reported that her group now holds a monthly lunch gathering with neighboring elderly people after discovering that many of them had trouble preparing their meals because local supermarkets or shops disappeared.

At a workshop on pensions, Moriguchi Fujiko of the Japan Pensioners’ Union said that the government is intending to further cut its payments for pension benefits and increase the consumption tax rate although about 12 million people live on less than 100,000 yen a month, and that the Abenomics economic policy is causing the increase in the price of food and utility charges. She said that these facts violate the right to minimum quality of living guaranteed by the Constitution.

At a discussion workshop, a 61-year-old female home-care worker said, “Helping elderly people who are forced to live on very little money, I often agonize about how I can have their voices heard by administrations. Listening to other people’s stories and opinions today, I now understand that we all have to stand up to work together for their betterment.”

Reposted from Japan Press Weekly

Photo: Aaron Shumaker CC BY NC 2.0