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Housing and Healthy Aging<CategoryⅡ>

Toshiharu IKAGA

Project Director : Toshiharu IKAGA
(Professor,Keio University)

(Length:3years)


Project goals

1) To explore living environment that promotes the health of older adults and longevity

2) To offer the opportunity for community dwellers to learn about health-enhancing lifestyle

3) To develop an efficient communication system through which older residents report their condition on the regular basis


Project overview

In this project, we have demonstrated some models for community and housing to achieve health and longevity, taking the town of Yusuhara in Kochi Prefecture as a model, since its elderly population rate is typical of that expected across Japan 40 years in the future (2050). Building upon its experiences as a doctorless town in 1971, Yusuhara has witnessed residents and government united in engaging in health promotion and disease prevention, under the philosophy of Local residents looking after the health of local residents. Designated officers (fixed-term system) to promote health culture in the town have been selected from among the residents for more than 30 years. However, the average age of those conducting these health patrol duties is over 65, due to super-aging of the local community, such that the elderly must now look after the elderly; Yusuhara is becoming a society where the aged must care for the aged. Additionally, the increasing demand for at-home medical and nursing care services is increasing the labor and mobility burden on service workers, which is leading to attrition of service providers and instability of emergency services.
Therefore, at this time, as well as expanding the scope of primary prevention activities by improving lifestyles of Yusuhara as has been done before, we aim to construct a form of pre-primary prevention by improving local living conditions and communities. Through undertaking private sector/public sector/academic collaborative field surveys and promoting lifelong learning activities and health protection activities, we aim to achieve this goal by promoting awareness about ways of living and living environments that contribute to health and longevity. The knowledge gained here will be applicable not only to mountainous regions similar to Yusuhara, but also nationwide across Japan, including urban areas where greater demographic aging is expected. These ongoing discussions will play a role in constructing a support system for health and longevity to contribute to Japan’s super-aging society.


Stakeholders

Keio University
Tokyo Metropolitan University
The University of Kitakyushu
Institute for Building Environment and Energy Conservation
Research Associates for Sustainable Community
Nokyo Kyosai Research Institute
Building Research Institute
Kobe Shukugawa Gakuin University
Tokyo University of Science
Juntendo University
Tama University
The town of Yusuhara (Kochi Prefecture)
Yusuhara National Health Insurance Hospital


Community spotlight: The town of Yusuhara (Kochi Prefecture)

The town of Yusuhara is located in a typically mountainous area on the border of Ehime and Kochi prefectures, with a population of about 3,800 residents. Ninety-one percent of the municipality’s total area (237 km2) is covered by forest, and Yusuhara is rich in natural blessings, such as the headwaters of the clear stream Shimanto River. Although Kochi is located in Japan’s warmer south, this mountainous terrain is sometimes closed due to deep snowfall. Yusuhara is also known as an ‘environmental model city’ committed to environmentally friendly urban development. Yusuhara is currently promoting urban development with the aim of achieving 100% energy self-sufficiency, and this achievement was officially recognized by the Prime Minister in 2009. Yusuhara has further increased its profile since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, and it receives many delegations from other municipalities. On the other hand, Yusuhara is suffering from a dramatic aging rate, with an elderly population of 39.5% in 2012. Prior to this, government and residents cooperated in undertaking health promoting initiatives. The town of Yusuhara is making proactive efforts to promote not only the environmental aspects but also the health aspects of life for its residents.

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