From time-to-time news about the care and support of senior citizens makes headlines, usually these are news that reveal the lack of awareness and poor prioritization when it comes to assistance and social services. And where there is a lack or a need innovation can prosper. We collected some examples of innovation on the subject of treatment of senior citizens. No spoilers, but we will say that you can expect to read amazing ideas.
As a response to the growth of the elderly population, Japan issued a special currency called Fureai Kippu, which means ‘caring relationship card’. The basic unit of the currency is one hour of voluntary service for a person in the golden age. In return, the volunteers receive credit for their own use. Retirees can help other retirees and earn credit that they can deposit and spend for their own personal needs. Younger family members who live a long geographic distance from the family can earn credit by helping retirees in their neighborhood and then transfer the credit they’ve earned to their elderly parents.
In addition, the Japanese government has developed a program to take care of the elderly population, called the Orange Plan, which includes medical staff, home visits and support for family members who care for retirees. In the city of Matsudo, they took the program one step further and became known as “dementia town”. As having a high percentage of senior citizens, city leaders felt that planning was needed to deal with dementia. For example, as part of the program, special QR codes were embroidered on the clothes of the older citizens to help identify them in case they were found wandering and lost. Volunteers in the neighborhood patrol carry out inspections in houses that appear to be inactive (a full mailbox, etc.) and inform the police to carry out an inspection. The cafes are managed by volunteers who have undergone special training on dementia. Those who passed the training wear a bright orange bracelet so that they can be identified quickly and ask for assistance.
There they developed a super fascinating program with huge payoffs (wait for it…) – university students who live in assisted living. In exchange for 30 hours of volunteering with pensioners each month, the students get a rent-free room. They teach the elderly residents new skills such as using social media, playing music and more. The older residents benefit from communicating with the young people who spend time with them, updating them on current affairs and creating real relationships, in the hope that the students will continue to volunteer even after graduation. This is definitely a win win situation!
But wait, there’s more. A small village in the Netherlands called Hogewey in which all its inhabitants are dealing with dementia. There they have the possibility to live a “normal” life, they live in their own home with other residents and with the caregivers. The village is fenced for the safety of the residents, cameras monitor their movement in the village. There are stores where you can pick up your shopping (groceries, etc.) free of charge. The sellers in the shops wear civilian clothes but are qualified therapists who are there for the pensioners. It is probably not surprising to find that the residents of this special village live longer and need less medication compared to others with dementia who are in traditional settings, the inspiration being that the sense of purpose and the opportunity to do “normal” things has a positive effect.
We were totally impressed Holland!
From Hogeweyk’s website https://hogeweyk.dementiavillage.com/#NaN
The country offers 2 housing alternatives that distinguish it from other countries in the field of care for the golden generation. One plan – a cooperative apartment. A house shared by 8 residents with dementia. There is care available 24 hours at home, but other than that, the conduct is normal. The tenants participate in the responsibilities of the household, of course, only what they can. They engage in different hobbies just as they did in a “normal” home. They have access to the community and family members can come visit and spend the night in the guest room.
Another initiative is called multi-generational homes. As part of the program, a building was placed next to a kindergarten and occupied by 85 apartments for Golden Generation tenants with 24-hour assistance. The children enjoy a break in a shared garden, the older tenants remain part of the community and enjoy the presence of the children in their daily lives.
This made us happy and excited!
China faces difficult challenges when it comes to the care of retirees. The birth law that was customary for many years and left one child per family created a shortage of potential caregivers within the family. The younger generation flocks to the cities and leaves the parents behind.
One of the innovative programs developed is a university for the ages of 70 and upwards, known as the University of the Aged located in the city of Rodong and offering a flourishing environment and a sense of purpose for students and lecturers, a place to go and interact with others. The students pay only a small amount and the Chinese government covers most of the expense.