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Private detective agency to keep eye on senile seniors


A felt hat with the brim turned down. Scuffed shoes. A gravely voice, and fingers yellowed from chain-smoking unfiltered cigarettes. The stereotypical, hard-boiled image of a private detective owes much to the literary influences of such popular authors as Raymond Chandler, Dashiel Hammett and Ross McDonald. And since form follows art, no doubt there may even be some "shiritsu tantei" (private investigators) in Japan who actually make an effort to conform to that appearance while on assignment to catch an embezzler, track down a missing person or sniffing around to confirm a wary spouse's suspicions of marital infidelity.

Or, they could be on the lookout for a senile senior. The Nikkei Marketing Journal (Dec 16) reports that from January 1, a Koshigaya City, Saitama-based private investigative agency, Haraichi, will begin offering a new service in which its trained operatives assist families in keeping track of their elderly members.

In preparation for the new service, some 60 Haraichi staff have attended lectures organized by the local government to help familiarize people with those suffering from cognitive disorders. The company has also obtained the cooperation of an NGO named the Kaigo Life Support Association, with which it jointly produced a checklist to aid agents in the field.

At the client's request, the operative will patrol the residences of seniors living alone, unobtrusively tailing them when they go out to ensure their safety, and even going so far as to monitor the presence of vehicles in the garage. Or in a pinch they'll even accompany them shopping, going so far as to dole out the necessary cash to make a purchase.

Within five days after the service is completed, the client will be furnished with photographic evidence that the service was provided, along with an optical disc containing an activity report.

Haraichi's new service anticipates that the operatives will be posted within walking distance of the elderly person's place of residence. It plans to charge 32,000 yen and up for a 3-hour course and 108,000 yen and up for an 8-hour session. Jobs of other durations can be custom designed upon consultation.

"Over the past several years, we've been receiving more requests for these kind of patrols," Haraichi managing director Hiroshi Yamaguchi was quoted as saying. His detectives, he claims, can be worth it, as the police tend to be comparatively slow to react to missing persons requests.

"As our staff boast lots of knowhow for investigating and observing, we suppose that's why more customers have started coming to us," Yamaguchi tells the NMJ.

The elderly, particularly those living separately from their family, in many cases require more attention than might be the case for children. According to Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare statistics, Japan had 4.62 million diagnosed cases of dementia in 2012. By 2025, that figure is projected to increase to 7 million.

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Why can't people take care of their own elders? I'm personally shocked at how swiftly the Japanese shove their own parents into nursing care homes, even though they themselves are middle-class, middle-aged couples with no mouths to feed and at least one person who stays at home all day (so-called "professional housewife"). I hear them all the time exchanging tips about how to make the most of the nursing care insurance system - paid for by the younger, hardworking taxpayers like me - and how to avoid as much responsibility as possible for taking care of their parents themselves. It disgusts me.

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Sometimes the elderly live far from children, refuse to move to live with their children, live somewhere the family/husband can't transfer to...

People have to make a living. Old people refuse to move to their kids's town, and if they're out in the boondocks good luck with finding work a the same pay level as the city.

how swiftly the Japanese shove their own parents into nursing care homes

Tell me your criteria to determine which elderly were put into a home 'too early'.

and at least one person who stays at home all day (so-called "professional housewife")

Simply having someone home all day is not enough. As dementia progresses many people become violent (although not all), incontinent, unable to swallow normal food, have malabsorption syndrome where no matter how much you feed them they continue to lose weight...have you ever taken care of anyone in that condition?

I'm betting not. It's ALWAYS those who have no experience with someone with the mind of a child but the strength and will of an adult, someone who has never changed an adult diaper or swabbed the floors after accident,s that points their fingers and say families should do more.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Nope. Through my work I am acquainted with dozens, if not hundreds, of middle-aged sengyo shufu (who have never paid income tax, incidentally) who are hell-bent on ensuring that elder care doesn't interfere with their hobbies and travel plans. Most of them live in the same wards or even neighborhoods as their elderly parents or in-laws, and the rare few who have elders in the inaka are relying on their country cousins to take care of them. They pay perfunctory visits to them every couple of months but usually manage to turn the brief journeys into sightseeing trips, and most of them spend more time at the onsen than at granny's bedside. The reason I know all this is because they have the nerve to brag about how "every day is a holiday."

Oh well, nice work if you can get

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

You know some pretty awful people...

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My mother's cognitive impairment before her death was mild. She could engage socially and look after almost everything herself except driving, banking and thinking ahead in certain cognitive areas. (She knew she needed to make meals and ate well, but she couldn't be relied on to take her medication properly. Therefore, she needed blister packs to organize them for her.)

To assist her I took care of the finances. Plus I organized a cleaning service to do the heavy jobs like vacuuming and clean the bathrooms. That way she didn't risk falling in the tub. A nurse came every six weeks to take care of her feet as she no longer had the strength to clip her toenails. Once a week a driving service took her to shop for groceries which she could do independently until the week she went into hospital. The driver carried the bags for her. Over the 5 years after my father's death, they became her friends and happily looked out for her. She got extra attention that her other children (who each lived 8 hours away) could not provide.

Given her mild impairment and that I lived .5 km away, could I have done all that myself? Yes. However, having others' watchful eyes on her who could alert me to concerns she might hide from me was very helpful. Also, like many people, my mother behaved better with strangers than with me. Sometimes she could be mean, obstinate and demanding, but she didn't show that side to the public or her friends. Arranged this way we were all happier. My outings with my mother could be pleasant occasions such as shopping for shoes or enjoying lunch in a restaurant.

In a case where a person is more severely impaired this dynamic changes drastically. When my mother needed acute care I could not provide it. I did not have the training or skill set required. When the end came she went directly to palliative care via Emergency from her home. For those who linger for years at home--incontinent and sometimes violent--the burden on the caregiver is severe. Most end up in that role by virtue of gender and geography. Most don't have the skills to assist their parents or the time to acquire them.

The extra level of service the agencies described can provide the elderly will be a godsend to families. It eases the burden on the caregivers enormously.

Tess, you "know" too many awful people. However, you don't know the individual dynamics in those relationships that cause the calloused attitudes. If you give it some thought, there might be good reasons you are not privy to, reasons not to let a demented parent dominate one's life. Even so, I hope you don't judge everyone else based on them.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

well I know quite a few people who give their lives over to caring for their oldsters… so, like everything else, it depends on the individual… I don't think it's reasonable to say "Japanese this, Japanese that"… it's people being people, people...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

And ankle band that monitors home arrest people would work well. The band is police monitored and the band indicates your location

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"It plans to charge 32,000 yen and up for a 3-hour course and 108,000 yen and up for an 8-hour session"

for these prices, you could surely hire someone to spend regular quality time with them as a helper/social worker. A daily visit, help them go shopping, talk to them, make them a cup of tea, make sure they eat at least one good meal in the day, build up a relationship.

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Great post, philly1. That's great that your mother could function with help. When MIL began showing signs of dementia, the home helper network here was in its infancy. The criteria for home help was all based on physical ability...can they stand on one foot? Wash themselves in the shower? Dress themselves? People like MIL who passed these criteria got three hours of help a week, despite the fact that her reasoning was shot, and she couldn't plan or cook meals and was starting to scrape the car every time she went out. They've since changed the criteria to include cognitive impairment.

So very true about elders acting differently with different people. They often don 't like to admit to their children that they are failing, or have new aches and pains, but they will tell a caregiver. Some lash out at their own families, but act pleasantly with strangers. Having a caretaker they won't attack for backup is a blessing. Often it's the main caretaker who bears the brunt of the verbal abuse...they seem to target the person they feel most dependant on.

It's a terrible job in most cases, and backwards, sexist thinking means that 90% or more of caregivers are wives, daughters and daughters-in-law.

Ultrack, delusions of having been abducted or imprisoned (because they don't recognize their homes or family members) are common, an ankle bandwould be terribly upsetting for many. Normal logical thinking processes don't apply...MIL tried to burn a hospital ID off herself (!!) with a lighter she stole off someone, but first burned through an IV tube to get out of bed. I can imagine someone trying to cut off an ankle band.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Tessa: My Partner Father want her to come back home so to look after his aging parents. HIs reasoning is that. Get THis, He has invested money like 4 years of education at Uni. That she has not produce the come outs which such education quaifulcation. That she is only a process line worker. So she is better for her to care for his Parents. Strange but she is enjoying her work and looks forward to working and being independent. But feel like shite because she feel very bad in disobeying her father. I bet she is not the only young girl with these family pressure in Japan society.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Cameras. Then Amazon deliveries. Retirement homes. Hanky panky. Burning rubber in golf carts. Used food. Bad entertainers who couldn't get cruise ship jobs. Then it's your turn. Sharing a room with a smoker.

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