Making Those Golden Years Shine – Part 2

Just because this subject deserves some extra attention, here’s another post about how we can make life better for elderly people.

Japan is fully immersed in it’s wave of aging baby boomers, and the United States is just entering that reality now.  So, it’s more important than ever that we find ways to age gracefully, and joyfully.

This elder care facility (well, small chain of four facilities) is taking a hard look at what it means to care for someone.  Sometimes, you can help people the most by simply allowing them to help themselves.  That’s the whole concept behind the Lake Village Dream facilities.  They purposely leave common barriers intact so that users can challenge themselves to overcome them.

This facility shows us that when we really pay attention to finding things that people with physical limitations can do on their own, and then allow them to do those things, they recover more quickly.  Not only that, they become more capable, empowered and happy.

The proof is in the pudding.  The first video shows that the rate of nursing care gradient improvement nationwide is 11.5%, but the rate of improvement at Lake Village Dream is 76.9%.  Well done.

Still, the very best part of this story is shown in the second video.  One of the users of this facility used to be a chef, but then lost the use of his left arm due to a brain hemorrhage.  However, at Lake Village Dream he recovered to the point where he could actually go and work at a restaurant again.  The smile on his face as he greets the customers says it all.

Here’s the Japanese synopsis:

常識を変える介護施設”バリア アリー”

一般的な高齢者福祉施設では、手すりを設け段差を無くすといった「バリアフリー」が常識だが、山口県あるデイサービスセンター「夢のみずうみ村」では、階段や段差、坂など日常生活にある障害物があえて配置されている。ここでは「バリアフリー」ではなく「バリアアリー」という常識とは真逆の発想。代表の藤原茂さんは「介護しない介護がある」と言う。ここでは、介助なしでは立ち上がることもできなかった車いす利用の男性が、わずか 1年半で歩けるように回復した例もある。  さらに、ギャンブル性の高い活動も。利用者に大人気なのが「カジノ」。手づくりのダーツ、輪投げ、ルーレット、麻雀までメニューも多い。そこでやり取りされるのは「ユーメ」という施設内通貨。洗濯物をたたんだり、食器を片付けたりしても「ユーメ」が受け取れる。利用者の金銭感覚が刺激され、認知予防にもなるという。利用者は生き生きと楽しみながら、結果としてリハビリをしているという狙いだ。

Here it is in English:

Changing the Common Knowledge of Nursing Homes “With Barriers”
It’s common knowledge that standard practice for elder care facilities includes installing hand rails, eliminating steps, and making them “barrier free”.  But, at the day service center “Lake Village Dream” in Yamaguchi Prefecture obstacles found in daily living such as stairs, steps, and slopes are purposely laid out.  Here, the common phrase is not “barrier free”, but the exact opposite concept, “with barriers”.  Representative, Mr. Shige Fujiwara, says, “Not giving care is a kind of care giving”.  There is the example of a man using a wheelchair who was unable to stand without assistance, but was able walk on his own after just a year and a half of recovery here.
They’re also taking a “gamble” on other activities.  For example, the casino is a big hit with users.  The wide menu of activities also includes dart making, ring-toss games, roulette, and Mah-Jong.  What you’ll see being exchanged here is a thing they call “Yuume”.  If you do things such as fold laundry or put away the dishes, you’ll get some Yuume.  Users are stimulated by the sense of how to use money, and this helps to mitigate dementia.  The goal is to achieve rehabilitation while allowing users to be lively and enjoy themselves.

Here are the video clips:

Making Those Golden Years Shine – Part 1

How many of us give a lot of thought to the living situations of the older folks in our society?  Well, if you have aging parents, you may give a lot of thought to it.  And you may wonder how to help them lead the most satisfying lives possible now and in the future.

At first glance a place like the Smart Community Inage seems idyllic.  There are plenty of interesting activities to participate in, and best of all, great food!  But, this story brings up a very important idea.  While having lots of fun things to do can make life better, there is something that is even more essential.  That essential thing is to be able to live life with a sense of purpose.  I believe that at any age, having the feeling that what you’re doing is meaningful is absolutely necessary if you are to feel fulfillment.

This company president came to understand that fact first hand by talking to his residents, and finding out that what many of them yearn for is to be able to interact with and contribute to society.  One activity that he started in order to meet this request was to have residents do volunteer activities.  The video shows them dancing with a group of people in wheelchairs, and having a great time doing it.  What a great win-win situation for both the residents, and for the wheelchair group.

I think we can all learn a lot from this example.  Let’s find more ways to help the seniors in our lives be engaged and empowered.  Because when they’re happy, we can be happier too.

Here’s the original synopsis:


千葉県にある「スマートコミュニティ稲毛」は、分譲マンションと住民専用の広大な「クラブハウス」から成る。住民は、60〜80代だが、「高齢者施設」のイメージはほとんどない。高級ホテルのような作りと、クラブハウスで毎日行われる「アクティビティ」と呼ばれる趣味のクラブが人気だ。ゴルフ、テニス、フラダンスに和太鼓、コーラスと、その数は30種以上。さらに、朝晩の食事では、老舗日本料理屋「なだ万」の料理人が腕を振るう懐石風料理も食べられる。既存の2棟に加え、4月に3棟目が完成。来年には全部で  5棟に増える予定だ。運営会社の社長は、ゲーム会社「スクウェア・エニックス」の出身だ。初期投資は大きくても、その後のユーザー拡大で回収していくゲームビジネスに似ていると言う。視察や誘致も相次ぐ。 順風満帆に見える生活…しかし、オープンから4年目の今、住民に意外な変化が…設立当初からは考えられなかった声が出始めているという。新たな住民が増えることで要望も多様化。対応を迫られる運営スタッフ。そこで生まれた新発想のシニアライフとは

And here it is in English:

A Luxurious and Popular Senior Living Home….and a Surprising Change With Residents.

In Chiba Prefecture, the “Smart Community Inage” is made up of Condos and an extensive clubhouse for residents.  The residents are 60 to 90 years of age, but you don’t get the impression that it’s an old folks home.  It’s constructed like a high-end hotel, and there are popular clubs called “Activities” that are held in the clubhouse daily.  There are more than 30 clubs including golf, tennis, hula dance, Taiko drumming, and chorus.  Also, morning and evening meals include traditional multi-course cuisine prepared by chefs from the long-standing Japanese restaurant “Nadaman”.  In April, a third location will be added to the two that currently exist, and there are plans to have a total of five locations by next year.  The president of the company is originally from the game maker Square Enix.  He says that the it resembles the game business because the initial investment is large, but costs are recovered by magnifying the number of users.  But, there is still more to these facilities.  Everything seemed to be smooth sailing, but during this fourth year after opening there’s been an unexpected change among residents with feelings that were unimaginable when the home was first established.  As new residents are added their wants and needs also diversify.  The staff are compelled to respond.  What is the new concept of senior living that comes from this?

Also, check out the video: