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:

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