Redesigning Communities for Aged Society (2010-2015)

Redesigning Communities for  Aged Society

PUBLIC NEEDS

Area Director: Hiroko AKIYAMA
Professor, Institute of Gerontology,
University of Tokyo

Japan has the greatest longevity of any country in the world. At present, senior citizens(age 65+) account for 23% of the population in Japan. By 2030, this number is expected to increase to one third. Particularly, people aged 75 and older will increase rapidly. Since there is no precedent for this situation anywhere in the world, it is hard to predict what types of problems are likely to occur. Accordingly, there is an urgent need to accurately assess the current situation, identify problems and conduct research to find solutions to the problems.

However, it is difficult to resolve the problem of an aging society through individual efforts. Many of the problems require a multi-disciplinary perspective, which takes into consideration the psychological, physical and social status of the senior citizens. Exploring a problem resolution from various perspectives, including the humanities and the social sciences, will lead to more effective models for the aging society.

RISTEX is now seeking potential solutions to a broad range of problems arising in communities due to population aging.

GOALS:

  1. To develop innovative community-based research programs seeking solutions to critical problems arising in the aged society, which involve relevant multi-stakeholders such as scientific disciplines, government agencies, industries and citizens.
  2. To introduce methodological innovations in research solving problems of the aged society.
  3. To create a network of R&D centers which will serve as the resource center for redesigning communities for the aged society.

Message from the Area Director

Older-old population is rapidly increasing in Japan. By next 20 years, people aged 75+ will double in number and account for 20% of the total population. More specifically, population aging is drastic in urban areas. A large number of young people seeking good jobs moved from rural areas to metropolitan areas during the period of rapid economic growth in the 1960s and 70s. They are now reaching retirement age. Although population aging has been an issue in rural areas for a long time, it is increasingly becoming an urban issue in Japan. In year 2030, it is also predicted that 10% of people aged 65+ will be demented and 45% will be living alone. Many people in their 80s and 90s will be living alone.

In a study launched in 1987 to track the aging patterns of 6,000 elderly people, it has been shown that 80% were healthy enough to live alone until their mid-70s, then, began to see a gradual decline in their self-sustainability. Given that the population aged 75+ is expected to double in the next 20 years, it is clear that quick action is needed. One thing that we need do is to find a way to delay, by even two or three years, the age at which people start losing sustainability - in other words, to extend people's healthy life expectancy. Another is to build a social infrastructure that can support the lifestyles of elderly people who need assistance

The existing infrastructure of communities was built when the population was much younger. We need to redesign both hard and soft infrastructures of communities to meet the needs of the highly aged society. Such effort will require research, design and actions-and collaboration of multi-stakeholders such as a range of academic disciplines, governments, industries and citizens.

R&D Projects

FY2012

Category I:Projects whose goal is to provide options for resolving social problems (the approach to R&D, organization of indicators, etc. for scientific evaluation)

  • Promoting a Public Consciousness of Decision-making on Elderly Care (3 yrs.)
    Tetsuro SHIMIZU [Professor, Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, The University of Tokyo]
  • Health Care Decision-making Support for People with Dementia in Japan (3 yrs.)
    Jin NARUMOTO [Associate Professor, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine]

Category II:Projects whose goal is to go all the way to experimental proof of specific technologies, methods etc. to help resolve social problems

  • Housing and Healthy Aging (3 yrs.)
    Toshiharu IKAGA [Professor, Keio University]
  • Network Community for Refugees Dispersed in a Wide Area (3 yrs.)
    Shigeru SATOH [Professor, Waseda University]
  • Community Design for Preventing Dementia (3 yrs.)
    Hiroyuki SHIMADA [Chief, National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology]

FY2011

Category I:Projects whose goal is to provide options for resolving social problems (the approach to R&D, organization of indicators, etc. for scientific evaluation)

  • Expanding Social Capital in a Community by Utilizing Assistive Technology for Walking (3 yrs.)
    Minako NAKABAYASHI [Associate Professor, Graduate school of Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences for Research, Toyama University]

Category II:Projects whose goal is to go all the way to experimental proof of specific technologies, methods etc. to help resolve social problems

  • Community Design for Temporal Housing Sites in the Tsunami Stricken Area (3 yrs.)
    Junichiro OKATA [Professor, School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo]
  • Development of a Community-based Comprehensive System for Prevention of Frailty in Late Life (3 yrs.)
    Shoji SHINKAI [Leader, Research Team for Social Participation and Community Health, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology]
  • Innovations in Age-friendly Farming (3 yrs.)
    Shingo TERAOKA [Associate Professor, NARA Women's University]
  • Founding the Center for Usability and Aging Research (CUAR) with senior citizens (3 yrs.)
    Etsuko T. HARADA [Professor, Institute of Psychology, University of Tsukuba]

FY2010

Category I:Projects whose goal is to provide options for resolving social problems (the approach to R&D, organization of indicators, etc. for scientific evaluation)

  • Development of an area diagnosis tool for promoting home medical care (3 yrs.)
    Hideki OTA [Chief Director, Medical Corporation ASMss]
  • Development of a new "Index of Competence" reflecting improved health status of the elderly (3 yrs.)
    Takao SUZUKI [Director, National Institute of Geriatrics and Gerontology]

Category II:Projects whose goal is to go all the way to experimental proof of specific technologies, methods etc. to help resolve social problems

  • Aging in Place with ICT (3 yrs.)
    Akiko OGAWA [Professor, Iwate Prefectural University]
  • Senior citizens' new career model in the community (3 yrs.)
    Tetsuo TSUJI [Professor, Institute of Gerontology / The University of Tokyo]