Help senior citizens interact more with younger generation

According to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry and other sources, there are about 36.27 million people aged 65 or older in the nation, accounting for 29.1% of the entire population. Both the number and percentage are record highs. The number of people aged 100 or over has exceeded 90,000 for the first time.

Once again, there is the realization that Japan is one of the world’s top countries for longevity.

As expressed in the phrase, “a society in which people are active even at an advanced age,” many senior citizens nowadays choose to continue working. Some who are healthy work out at the gym. There is no doubt that hale and hearty senior citizens endow society with vitality.

However, the environment surrounding the elderly warrants no optimism.

During the pandemic, they have been forced to stay at home after being asked to refrain from going out, and as a result, they may have lost physical strength and become less motivated without realizing it. Stress from being unable to meet people could lead to the deterioration of mental and physical functions.

Even in the pandemic, society as a whole needs to create an environment in which the elderly can maintain their health.

First of all, senior citizens themselves should exercise their bodies, such as by walking, while taking basic measures against infections. It is ideal for them to eat at set times and have three meals a day.

Family members and other people around senior citizens should frequently contact them by phone or via social media to check on their health. Of course, it is ideal if they can meet in person and have a conversation.

It is important to maintain contact with society in order to prevent the deterioration of mental and physical functions. Enjoying hobbies with friends will help them stay mentally healthy.

It is also important for the elderly to interact not only with their peers but also with the younger generation.

Engao, an incorporated association in Otawara, Tochigi Prefecture, has turned some vacant stores into places where elderly people in the community can casually drop by. There are also spaces for students to study as well as to interact with senior citizens.

While chatting with young people, many senior citizens are said to smile in a way they usually would not. After spending time at these places, some young people have said they felt more caring toward the elderly.

It may be advisable for the government to expand such efforts nationwide.

The Hino city government in Tokyo conducted a questionnaire through which it identified 70 elderly people in need of assistance and runs a monitoring system in which 150 volunteers visit their homes. It is hoped there will be support for elderly people living alone who are prone to being lonely.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 19, 2022)