« 定額給付金―君子は豹変ためらわぬ | トップページ | ガザの悲劇―いつまで放置するのだ »

2009年1月13日 (火)



--The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 7(IHT/Asahi: January 8,2009)

EDITORIAL: Senior-friendly housing


The Japanese people now boast the world's greatest rate of longevity, and their average lifespan continues to grow. The inevitable result of this trend lies in changes in how people spend their twilight years.


One example of this is where and how we live. From the era in which people normally dwelled with their children, the trend toward the nuclear family has produced a new generation that prefers to live away from their parents, who themselves prefer to live separately from their offspring. This shift is fueling projections for a steady increase in households comprised solely of senior citizens. The members of such family units will eventually grow old and feeble, with one of the partners passing away. The surviving members will naturally be plagued with doubts about their ability to continue to live as they have done.



For pensioners in rental accommodation, the cost of rental fees will emerge as an increasingly heavy burden. Even among those who own their own homes, with suburban and regional areas becoming so dependent on cars for mobility, older folks may come to regret living so inconveniently.



The bestseller status of the recent book "Ohitorisama no Rogo" (Seniors Living Alone) by sociologist Chizuko Ueno appears to reflect such underlying anxieties.


Last October, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, which is in charge of housing policy, instructed its Council for Social Infrastructure to advise it on the best approach to formulate housing policies for the elderly.


The move indicates that interest in homes for the elderly, a genre of dwellings positioned somewhere between conventional housing and institutions, is on the rise at last.


Key advantages of such senior housing include the monitoring and livelihood support services provided for the residents. Such benefits counter the threat of even minor problems seriously hindering the everyday lives of elderly people.


One example would be a situation where elderly people are unable to replace a burned out light bulb. Another would be tripping on a step, breaking a bone and being hospitalized; or in worst-case scenarios, dying alone.


For many of those still able to live independently without nursing care, senior housing can ensure safety and peace of mind. In fact, such dwellings have been in trial use for more than 20 years.

 生活の自立ができていて介護はまだ必要ではない人に、安全と安心を保障するのが高齢者住宅といえるだろう。 実は高齢者住宅は、20年余り前から試行されている。 

"Silver Housing" public accommodations, modeled after homes for senior citizens in Britain, provide one example of that approach. In this case, housing administrative authorities provide hardware features such as safe, barrier-free designs, while welfare administration furnishes the security benefits of having livelihood support officers stationed on the premises. The result was an epoch-making policy spanning the divisions between different government sectors.


However, the subsequent economic downturn and other factors have curbed the number of such dwellings being built, with only slightly more than 22,000 such units now available nationwide.


That supply was augmented through legal and other policy measures such as introducing high-grade rental residences for the elderly with subsidized construction and rental costs and enactment of a housing law for senior citizens. Nevertheless, limits remain on the availability of such low-priced and conveniently located housing that are so sought-after.


Access to safe and comforting senior-friendly homes enables the dwellers to remain self-reliant in their daily lives. This can also be expected to contribute to the nation's fiscal health by lowering nursing care expenses.


The home is the foundation of our livelihoods. Yet, there is no reliable model for housing to fully satisfy the needs of the elderly in a country with such unprecedented longevity. We need to confirm the accumulated achievements to date, and then pool our experience and wisdom to devise original and effective means of coming to grips with this pressing issue.




« 定額給付金―君子は豹変ためらわぬ | トップページ | ガザの悲劇―いつまで放置するのだ »





« 定額給付金―君子は豹変ためらわぬ | トップページ | ガザの悲劇―いつまで放置するのだ »