ASID: Is Indo/Asia ready to send their seniors to the “home”?

Will the Eastern world meet the Western world when it comes to Senior Living? It seems that while the East is looking to the West to develop best practices there is still a major gap in understanding. There are two principles that you need to work within to better understand how small yet monumental the changes in the East truly are. First Eastern (Indo/Asia) seniors are elders and are inherently revered and respected. It is a duty to take care of one’s old. Secondly, mental illness or perceived mental illness is somewhat a disgrace to the family. Alzheimer’s/dementia fit into this category.

While I traveled India and Japan, I was able to witness the distinctions between how American senior living differed from these two Eastern cultures. India lacked most of what we would see in senior living and Japan was looking to solve their issues through research.

In an effort to ease some of the burden, researchers have spent some 12 years at the cost of $10 million by Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology to develop a robot named Paro. Paro is a robotic, fury baby seal with sensors under its fur that allows it to respond to touch. It also responds to light and voice with an understanding of eight languages.

Why would the Japanese government support such research and funding?

· For starters, by 2010, Japan will have 28% of its population over 65 years of age—and 40% by 2055, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

· Secondly, there is the universally common shortage of caregivers to fill this need.

In direct contrast to what I have mentioned about seniors being revered in Indo/Asia, a recent USA Today article told of how a government-operated senior home in China was getting bullied by the Chinese Air force and also by developers who wanted the land to receive more value on the property. They would even shut off their electric and water during large festivals. Can you imagine the outrage in America if this took place?

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Lisa M. Cini, ASID, IIDA, PMP, is the President & CEO of a Long-term Care Interior Design firm specializing in Interior Design, Space Planning, Capital Assessments, Alzheimer’s and Dementia planning, F&E Specification & Turn-Key Renovations. Mosaic’s mission is to improve the quality of life by design. She has presented nationally regarding designing environments to improve the quality of life for residents.

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