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Osaka convenience stores to help wandering dementia sufferers


Some years ago, convenience stores made the news by agreeing to serve as safe havens for people after dark. While mainly conceived as a means of assisting women, anyone who feared he or she was the target of a stalker or potential assailant could, in theory, seek sanctuary in a store while the employee summoned the police.

With the aging of Japan's population, another use for the stores is being promoted in Osaka. As reported by the Sankei Shimbun this week and other news sources, four major convenience store chains have agreed to function as "dementia supporters" to assist seniors who appear disoriented.

The system, said to be the first of its kind in Japan involving convenience stores, provides for managers at outlets operated by 7-Eleven Japan, Lawson, Family Mart and Circle K-Sunkus -- which total about 3,500 in Osaka Prefecture -- to attend training sessions conducted by local cities and towns. They will be taught on how to recognize and deal with people exhibiting characteristic symptoms of dementia, as well as how to contact police or family members. The sessions will take from 60 to 90 minutes.

In addition, convenience stores in the prefecture will tie up with the quasi-governmental "Patrol and Watch SOS Network" that shares data on missing elderly via emails and faxes. The network is already in use at schools, welfare offices, by railway and bus companies, gasoline stations and others. Once a family has reported a person missing, the network distributes the information to participating organizations.

According to sources in the Osaka prefectural government, since many convenience stores operate round the clock, they are considered particularly helpful in spotting missing seniors at night or in the early morning hours, when most other businesses are closed.

Last year, a total of 10,783 seniors suffering from dementia went missing nationwide, and Osaka Prefecture, with 1,921 reported cases, led the nation. In many instances the missing people were found while in convenience stores, where they had gone to make purchases.

According to recent marketing data, convenience stores are patronized more by those in the over-50 age group than teenagers and people in their 20s.

© Japan Today

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Nice to see the community getting involved.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

glad to hear something nice

5 ( +5 / -0 )

If a person hasn't been flagged as missing, but can't give their own name (for example), I hope the people working in the stores would still have the simple common sense to summon a policeman. That applies to Japan's 46 other prefectures. I also wonder why Osaka had the largest number of missing elderly, It also leads the nation in crimes by juveniles and several other social problems. I'm not sure if it's No. 1 but I recall Osaka also had a higher rate of divorce.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is great, but it should be extended to beyond Osaka. There are many people with dementia everywhere in Japan. They will continue to increase. The police also needs to get more involved too. They should be asking people who seem to be lost if they are ok and helping them. A MUCH better use of their time than asking foreigners about their cards. If the police paid as much attention to the elderly as they do to foreigners, I'll bet ALOT of missing demenia sufferers would be found.

1 ( +1 / -0 )


3 ( +3 / -0 )

Unfortunately low levels of understanding about dementia does lead to various misconceptions resulting in perpetuation of stigma which is prevalent in most countries throughout the world at various levels. So people with dementia are often isolated, or hidden, because the stigma or the possibility of negative reaction from neighbors and relatives to behavioral and psychological symptoms. Therefore the idea that nothing can be done to help people with dementia often leads to hopelessness and frustration. Hence we commend 7-Eleven Japan for developing and executing campaigns and creating an awareness by supporting a societal shift towards acceptance and inclusion of people affected by dementia.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What an awesome idea. Wish they had this sort of thing going on back home when my mother had become the great escape artist from her care facility.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Perhaps some of these patients could have their name inscribed on some of their clothing items. It would certainly make things easier. Anyway, a good idea

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm going to move to Osaka. Who knows, it may help, lol.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A practical and caring plan, particularly with the number of elderly in Japan on the increase, and many of them still living alone.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That's so great !

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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