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HOME  > Past issues  > 2011 September 7 - 13  > Senior care should respect human dignity
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2011 September 7 - 13 [WELFARE]

Senior care should respect human dignity

September 7, 2011
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Bedridden elderly people are having difficulty finding a place to live except at facilities exclusively for those who obtain nutrition via intravenous procedures. The “rented accommodation” is what the facility’s owner company calls it. The welfare ministry reports that there are ten such facilities though this may be just the tip of the iceberg.

Renters must sign a contract with the owner’s partner companies in regard to items ranging from medical treatment to nursing-care services, including the purchase of diapers. The owner thus profits from this partnership.

Nurses come three times a day to the facility only to provide intravenous feeding. The owner company has no need to prepare meals or assign personnel to take care of the elderly people living there. It instead seeks subsidies from the government for supposedly providing nursing care with a minimum amount of effort.

If one is not bedridden, the owner company increases her/his “rent”. It also terminates the residential agreement if one is hospitalized. This is because the company can receive more government subsidies for aging residents who need a higher degree of care.

Some welfare-related workers see such a facility as a “necessary evil”, and some families appreciate the availability of such facilities because they are finally freed from the hardships of caring for their aging relatives.

Hundreds of thousands of people quit their job each year in order to care for their parents or spouses. Although they are still young, some have to give up their career and even, in some cases, their marriage. There is no end to the tragic incidents caused by fatigue from providing care and from the solitary deaths of elderly people.

The nursing-care insurance program is failing to function properly. Insurance premiums and service charges are high; people who need special care cannot receive necessary services; the number of care facilities is insufficient; care workers are forced to work under harsh working conditions; many facilities are constantly understaffed; and about 420,000 people are waiting to enter special nursing-care homes which should, in the first place, be facilities for the elderly people who need full-time care.

As a result, family members are forced to endure hardships and the elderly people are targeted for abuse by profit-motivated nursing-care businesses.

Human dignity and individual rights should be protected until the last moment of life. Aiming for a society in which everyone can enjoy life after retirement without anxieties, the government should establish a public care program in which everyone who needs help can receive proper help.

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