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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 February 11 - 17  > Gov’t policy to confine dementia patients in hospitals provokes public anger
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2015 February 11 - 17 [WELFARE]

Gov’t policy to confine dementia patients in hospitals provokes public anger

February 11, 2015
The Abe government drew up a new welfare strategy in late January which particularly emphasizes the role of mental institutions in treating dementia patients. Many people concerned with medical and nursing-care services criticize this policy for going against the global trend.

The new strategy refers to mental institutions as “a control tower” commanding nursing-care service providers. It stresses the need to offer “long-term” and “specialized” medical treatment to elderly dementia patients who develop symptoms that include paranoia or wandering about lost. The administration is to put this program into practice in April.

A private doctor in the Tokyo metropolitan area fears that the new policy may lead to sending more people with dementia into mental institutions.

The number of hospitalized dementia sufferers in Japan is about 53,000, the highest level in the world. Of them, around 30,000 stay in hospitals for more than one year.

Meanwhile, European countries have focused a lot of time and energy on the dementia issue since the early 2000s. After a period of trial and error, they found that most persons with dementia can live in their homes if they are provided with appropriate care at an early stage. Based on a policy of early diagnosis and early treatment, those nations are increasing their efforts to help patients continue to live in the places where they feel most at home.

The practitioner said that the Japanese government should listen to people’s voices and incorporate them into its program, stressing that it is also needed in Japan to create regional support systems to prevent dementia sufferers from being unnecessarily hospitalized.

Past related article:
> Gov’t should take measures to handle responsibly people with dementia [September 26, 2014]

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