At first glance, a sign in your neighborhood for an elderly care facility that reads “Day Service Las Vegas” might be a cause for alarm. After all, seniors are frequent targets for scams.
But looking closer, it’s actually a novel solution to a growing problem among the rapidly aging population in Japan. Day services have become a growing industry as they provide elderly people with the daily care they need while giving them the independence of remaining in their own homes.
However, in Japan, the methods used in these places haven’t evolved much, offering only basic activities designed to promote physical, mental, and communicative activity. Some of these include games with balloons and coloring books, which are great for some people, but certainly not everyone.
The creators of Day Service Las Vegas noticed that as a result of current practices, there was a significant lack of male seniors attending day services. One survey found that attendance was 80 percent women and 20 percent males on average.
So, they decided to look abroad and noticed that in American facilities, while the general health and rehabilitation techniques were similar, there was much more emphasis on fun there.
Many activities involved going outside and jogging or playing golf, and some had poker or mahjong tables set up. Beyond that, one only needs to spend a few hours in the actual Las Vegas to know that elderly people love casinos.
So, this spirit was put into Day Service Las Vegas which has now grown to 23 locations across Japan, attracting seniors that might have otherwise become dangerously reclusive in their old age.
Of course, no actual gambling happens in these places. Instead the wagering is set up as a point based competition in which top winners are honored with the title of Las Vegas Champion. Throughout the games which include slots, pachinko, mahjong, baccarat, blackjack, seniors are along the way given regular physical exercise and encouraged to open up to others to relieve stress. The strategic gaming is also said to help stave off dementia.
▼ Staff dress the part and also pick up visitors in Toyota Alphard luxury minivans.
This kind of alternative care is also great at luring in volunteers. Teens might not be overly enthusiastic to pitch in at a standard Japanese old-age home, but the prospect of being a blackjack dealer at one is considerably more attractive.
Although a growing industry, specialized adult day care like this is still largely unknown in Japan, so when a Twitter user mentioned Day Service Las Vegas recently, it received over 24,000 retweets, 48,000 likes, and comments such as the following.
“I heard of this place. They have a Lady Gaga impersonator doing aerobics and the whole place is really energetic. I recommend it.”
“I heard they also have debt relief programs and specialized rehabilitation. I want to go there.”
“There’s one in my neighborhood! I thought the name was strange at first, but now I’m convinced.”
“The black luxury cars they use to pick people up are a nice touch and I think playing games is a good way to encourage social interaction.”
“I hope when I’m old they come up with a video arcade version of this.”
While Day Service Las Vegas is certainly a much needed alternative in the industry, it too doesn’t appeal to everyone. But its growing success will likely lead to other themed day care centers and ultimately a happier and healthier elderly population.
Source: Day Service Las Vegas, Facebook/Day Service Las Vegas, Twitter/@nami_mirairo, Hachima Kiko
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