Session #16“Davos experience in Tokyo” (DET) series
Topic “How can we resolve the problem of aging population through technology?”
Japan is the fastest aging country in the world. At over 30 million, people above the age of 65 account for some 25% of the total population in Japan. In 2013, the number of people over 80 was about 9 million.
Even though we have been aware of this demographic trend for some time, it is not clear whether we have taken adequate measures to address the societal and economic implications of the problem.
Currently, there are some 3 million people who try to balance career and elderly care in Japan. As the working-age population is shrinking and the Baby Boom generation is to reach 70 and 80 in the near future, the issue of elderly care, particularly for the people with career, becomes even more critical.
Given the extent of the problem and the possible negative implications globally, it is not surprising that the ageing population issue has been singled out as one of the areas where Japan can show world leadership and offer practical solutions. In other words, ageing provides a challenge where Japan can take the “offensive” and turn the problem into opportunities. (World Economic Forum Japan Meeting, June 2, 2014)
Technology could be one of the key factors in addressing this issue. Even though Japan has one of the best infrastructures and is ideally placed to employ advanced technology for the solution of practical problems such as aging, this potential has not been realized so far. In particular, IT technology, such as WI-FI for example, is not sufficiently used.
If the working population could employ information and other technologies more readily in elderly care, this would have large impact in addressing the aging problem both in Japan and worldwide.
For our #16 session of “Davos Experience in Tokyo” (DET) series on June 20, we would like to discuss how we can resolve the issue of aging, in particular, how we can balance elderly care and career by using technology.
We will hold our next session at Benesse, which is conducting a feasibility study of offering new care services. We have invited members of the New Business Development section of Benesse to speak about the background of the aging population problem in Japan, as well as to share the challenges they face currently.
We want to think broadly about the potential of technology in addressing the problem of fast-aging population and would like you come up with many ideas of how to use technology for balancing career and elderly care. This is not only an urgent problem on the agenda of all developed countries, but also an issue that
each of us is bound to face personally. So please join us on June 20
第16 回 「高齢化とテクノロジー：ITを用いて、キャリアと介護を両立できるか？ 具体的には？」
Video & Discussion
Series No.16 “How can we resolve the problem of aging population throughtechnology?”
Session #16 of “Davos…in Tokyo experience” was dedicated to one of the most serious problems Japan currently faces – rapidly aging population. We have discussed this problem before, but given the severity of the situation and its multifaceted effect on the Japanese society, we decided this topic merits further attention.
The focus of our discussion this time was how we could solve some of challenges connected to aging and elderly people, through technology. Japan is one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world, both in terms of research and consumer products, and thus is ideally placed to use this potential and develop practical solutions to share with other countries facing the same issue.
For this session we collaborated with Benesse, a leading provider of senior and nursing care in Japan, which is currently conducting a feasibility study of new care services.
After an introduction from Professor Ishikura, we welcomed Mr. Mori from Benesse, who presented an overview of the aging problem in Japan. As of 2010, 1 in 4 people, or some 30 million people in Japan are above 65 years old and the number is increasing. 5.5 million people receive nursing care insurance service and some 2.9 million people have to combine work with providing senior care to relatives. In 2012, 100,000 people quit their jobs to make time for elderly care. This sets a new troubling trend, as Japan’s diminishing workforce shrinks even further. Mr. Mori explained what elderly care entails and why it is such a demanding task. He also introduced the main types of nursing care providers – nursing homes, home-visit centers, day care centers and community-based care – and their benefits. Mr. Mori also touched upon the pressure and the problems faced by those who work and take care of elderly relatives. He mentioned several ways to solve these problems, such as using nursing care professionals, utilizing the company’s welfare system and care leave system and communicating more frequently with the supervisors and the HR department. However, he emphasized that in practice, taking advantage of such mechanisms is easier said than done.
For our break out discussion, the Benesse team has prepared six profiles of people at different stages of their careers, different family circumstances and different demands for elderly care upon them. A group was assigned to each profile, and our participants had the task to understand the situation of each profile person, think in detail about the challenges these people face, and try to devise some services or gadgets, with the help of technology to help them cope in their daily lives.
We proceeded with a report from each group about their debates and solutions. Several common topics emerged among many interesting ideas generated by the participants. One thread is that, apart from practical solutions to critical problems, both elderly people and care-givers, also need strategies that would make their tasks more entertaining and their lives more enjoyable. This is based on the insight that oftentimes, the burden of stress and psychological factors are even more important than balancing work and elderly care in terms of time, money etc. Another insight that emerged from the reports of most groups is that technology by itself cannot solve the biggest challenges in elderly care.
Since human interaction and empathy are one of the most important elements in elderly care, apart from wearables and room sensors/monitors, many gadgets would have effect only when combined with the involvement of the care-givers.
Professor Ishikura talked about her own experience with senior care and pointed out that one of the biggest challenges in addressing this issue is that it is difficult to generalize – each person has different problems and unique needs. We closed the session with the note that even though many problems in senior care are unexpected and unique, in the era of longer life expectancy, as a society we have to learn again how to take care of our elders.