This was the 52nd year since the people of Japan started to celebrate Respect for the Aged Day. Half a century ago, the Japanese started to pay respect to their aged loved ones every year on the third Monday in September. On this day they give recognition to their senior citizens for their contribution to culture and society in general and also to their longevity. By just looking at this custom from the Land of the Rising Sun, it is easy to understand why Japan is considered a country that is a leader in senior care. Because of this, there is so much that we Americans can learn from them and their behavior towards the elderly.
Celebrating Respect for the Aged Day
This day is a true festival in Japan. It is celebrated with music, gift giving, dancing, but most of all with the time people dedicate to their elderly loved ones. Most seniors agree that the best part of being old is that you have more time to spend with your family. Holidays such as this one give more chances to spend quality time surrounded with loved ones. Unfortunately, this day is not celebrated in the United States. Many people are not even aware of its existence. What’s even worse, people don’t know when Grandparents Day is, which actually is celebrated in the US. The reason is simple. American culture is not as appreciative of its seniors as the Japanese are.
Attitudes About Age
One of the primary reasons why Japan is so kind towards its elderly citizens is because the country is influenced by eastern ideologies such as Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. All of these ideologies are adamant about the fact that older people need to be treated with respect. Not only for their age and personality but for the life experience that they collected over the years, which is something held in high regard in that country.
The deep connection between young and old in Japan is seen in the fact that they have the most aged population in the world. The median age in Japan stands at 41, while the life expectancy is at 83. With this, they already have roots of respect for elderly planted deep inside them. In the last few years, the number of seniors that live alone in Japan is on the rise, but even with a trend like this, they are nowhere near the number in the United States.
Combating Adult Failure to Thrive
Living alone has its advantages. But seniors who live in communities can give their contributions to the economic, social, and emotional well-being of their loved ones. Some people who live alone struggle to complete simple tasks and are often left isolated, which leads to feelings of incompetence and can often lead to severe medical conditions such as depression. Another state that can arise in these seniors is AFTT (adult failure to thrive).
This condition occurs when seniors start to decline medically without a clear physical explanation. Some of the symptoms that accompany AFTT are weight loss, dehydration, inactivity, and decreased appetite. For seniors that suffer from this condition, one of the solutions might be companion care. If your loved one is living in a country that is not supportive towards its elderly in the way Japan is, companion care can be the difference between life and death.
What the Future Holds for the Elderly in the US
Not all older adults live in an age-supportive culture such as Japan. But in the future, America will need to turn to their elderly and recognize them as an equal part of society and one that can still contribute. The two countries have similarities, as America is fast becoming an aging society.
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