The dementia time bomb: Aging Japan faces healthcare crisis

By Natsuko Fukue

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is aiming to increase the number of nursing homes and raise care worker wages to tackle the problem.

I wish he would stop "aiming" and start doing something. Same for nursery schools.

He's been in office for five and half years for crying out loud. So far nothing.

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this is a serious problem for Japan. my partner and i travel 70km, three times a week to care for mother with dementia. it also means we have to eat out and have little time for our own housekeeping. thats about 15 hours a week of our time. we are lucky, many others we know have to care full-time.

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is aiming to increase the number of nursing homes and raise care worker wages to tackle the problem

Aiming to? That's like 'urging' and 'encouraging'. Japan will not only need aged care it will also need specialist care. Can we also expect Abe to defer this for a decade?

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The very first thing I thought of when I saw that picture, was that he was choking her. You might want to chose another picture, or at least turn on the lights. JT, so many are already murdering their aged family members, you wouldn't want to be responsible for giving then the idea.

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Regarding the new constitution that Abe and the far-right want to introduce, Article 24 of the draft says, "A family shall be respected as a natural and basic unit of society and families shall help each other.”

Many people see this as an attempt ( amongst other things ) to shift the burden of the impending "dementia time bomb" onto the families of those affected and away from the state healthcare system.

Successive LDP governments and the bureaucracy have known about the demographic time bomb since the early 1970s but have done almost nothing about it. Why should they be expected to anything about this?

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is aiming to increase the number of nursing homes and raise care worker wages to tackle the problem.

Yeah he aims alot. Unfortunately, his arrows are all over the place.  He is neither Robin Hood nor Nasu no Yoichi.

Ito, who had closed a convenience store he used to run to take care of his wife, said he hopes the government will create a better environment for caregivers.

Don't hold your breath. Abe is more interested in constitutional reform. He has no time for dementia.

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1 tsp of turmeric a day improved the dementia of elderly in studies. Ironically this is from a paper from Japanese scientists done in 2012 cited here: titled "Effects of turmeric on Alzheimer's disease with behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia". Department of Neurology, Kariya Toyota General Hospital, Kariya City, Aichi, Japan has a video about it here along with some other citations:

As to why turmeric isn't more widely used it was noted that you can't patent a spice, negating the pharmaceutical channels.

But the solutions are out there, and they are from Japanese medical scientists no less, in addition to other studies around the world. Also the cost is extremely cheap.

It is Turmeric that should be presented to the public, not more useless Abe "urging"

You have the knowledge Japan! Now put it to use!!

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Here's an interesting test for Alzheimer's Disease (AD). This is because the disease first affects the nose part of the brain, since that is at the bottom. The left nostril is sensed by the left part of the brain, the right nostril the right. AD affects the left part of the brain. So they developed a simple peanut butter blindfold test with a ruler to see if you have the beginnings of dementia long before it starts to manifest.

You breath through only one nostril at a time blindfolded and have the peanut butter moved closer until you can smell it. Normal is 17-18 cm away for both nostrils.

The experiments have shown that the right nostril only is fine in AD and non AD cases.

But amazingly, in AD patients, they lose smell in their left nostril, not sensing it until 5 cm away.

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More recent research is more promising than turmeric.

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is aiming to increase the number of nursing homes and raise care worker wages to tackle the problem.

Again with the aims, pledges, goals, urgings etc....but where the heck are the results after 6 years in office....just a lot of hot air bubbles for the gullible populace who will nevertheless vote LDP in droves come next election. This place is beyond unfreakingbelievable in some ways.

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@Haaa Nemui

"""The study also identified p38 as a possible candidate for the development of a drug to prevent the onset of cognitive decline"""

See? They just want a patent pharmaceutical solution to make money. Meanwhile Turmeric works, costs next to nothing in comparison, and has a study from a Japanese hospital that can answer questions to Japanese media without waiting for a translation about how to thwart dementia.

People can't wait years

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Interesting thoughts about tumeric so I read more about it. It's not just the tumeric but the curcumin that is an active ingredient in the spice. Also, neither the tumeric nor the curcumin are easily digested, meaning the body expels it quickly. And some studies have shown it effective against dementia while others find it less so; all reasonable studies say more studies need to be done. Finally, some older people can't tolerate tumeric in their stomachs so the target age group (especially in spice-phobic Japan) won't be able to use it.

(One site claims India has less dementia and that is probably because they eat a lot of tumeric; another study says no one really knows how many dementia cases India has because of the poverty and lack of health care generally.)

Looking forward to two things: more studies and more reliable studies on tumeric. And two:

Abe saying the government is going to delay creating more nursing homes until 2020 or later. As he as done with day care centers, taxes, improving the work/life balance of his people, and eliminating overtime and Karoshi (things that improve the life of 'his' people vs ramping up his military and war constitution (instant approval).

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the followup to that is the use of pepper with the turmeric. Note though that both your comment and the study was with curcumin that is easily removed by the liver. Yet turmeric is a whole food, with curmumin in it. It's not just curcumin. Even so the Japanese study noted before showed success with treatment. So there's more in the turmeric than just one part. The reason you read about curcumin is that, again, pharmaceutical companies want to make a $$$patent$$$. If you get the same effect in taking a whole food they're out of luck as anyone can go to their cupboard or to the store.

Here, I found the vid on it. The papers for the science are from 10 citations noted at the bottom of the page.

To cover our bases then, I'm taking turmeric with pepper. The liver should see the pepper and not bounce it.


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In light of the murder suicide rates and the anonymous person who said he wanted to kill his dementia diagnosed wife

That picture above is awful!!

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Not sure what you mean by unreliable. The Aichi hospital study was a small sample of 3 patients, but all 3 patients made remarkable improvements. They could remember their families again. If nothing else a larger study would be easier to create given the increases in the disease and public interest in the last five years

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Sf2k, they were also on was given 'non-typical anti-psychotics' and anti-dentist drugs. In that second case I'd assume it was the Namenda (most likely, they don't name the drug, which they should) which often brings about drastic change in a very short time. The first and third cases, there is no info on whether they were exact in taking their meds prior to this study...if they started taking Aricept on a regular schedule after not taking it properly, you'd see an improvement. Too little information to decisively say it was the turmeric.

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I don't agree. It gels with other information. Also Pharma wouldn't be trying so hard. Worthy of a full trial not more fishing for patents

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Wasn't me sf2k. I'd agree that turmeric or components of it are probably very likely to come up in treatment but alone it can't be completely successful. The natural ingredients can't be patented but what about delivery method?

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My wife's Grandmother passed away in nursing home last year after several years of dementia which somehow was triggered by a brain surgery. She was smart as a whip until the surgery then totally incapacitated. Her typical day was strapped to a bed in a room with about 12 other patients of similar condition for about 1.5 years. It is a tough situation, and I see no easy answers. Clearly the husband above is exhausted and I hope will find help and get his wife admitted to a nursing home.

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I'm sorry, but am I the only one who thinks the picture looks like its implying something else? I really thought it was something about child abuse. perhaps another picture should've been better.

The issue of dementia should be addressed and looked into and have more money spent on doing researches than the 2020 olympics coverage. Priorities people.

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@sensei258 : The very first thing I thought of when I saw that picture, was that he was choking her.

My own thoughts exactly... It's certainly not the first time we read such stories - if only Abe kept his word from time to time... "we will build more hospices for the elderly..." also : "We will build more "daycare" centres for the children of working parents..." The question is : WHEN ???

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@Haaa Nemui

That's a good point about delivery. State (liquid, solid, gas) or just putting together the ingredients you like and selling it as a supplement pill? There are companies that sell capsules of turmeric but without pepper so doing the same with added pepper would be possible. There are those that will prefer convenience over cost

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Abe is keep promissing stuff for the past 6 years, with 0 (zero) acomplishments so far.

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Read books, write books, play chess, study physics, do other intellectually-challenging work after you retire, and dementia will not develop.

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Are they waving or drowning?

It is a choice of picture which although disturbing, does represent the situation quite well. Caregivers are the ill person's own relatives, left to care for them by themselves, day after day, for years. Dementia (the number 1 killer of the elderly in the UK, I read recently), is a slow and potentially terrible dying. The govt. has known about this problem, as well as of course about the growing ageing population, for decades. Stop aiming, start doing.

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Maria Today 12:46 pm JST

It is a choice of picture which although disturbing, does represent the situation quite well.

Are you serious? The picture is a like of fake news.

In addition, have you ever heard of kaigo hoken?

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The social care system here is woefully outdated, based on the belief the familty will care for the patient. At the same time people aren't marrying, not having children and the governemnt wants women at work - but with no social care how is that going to happen? It's extraordinarily difficult being a carer for a loved one, the government refuses to recognise this.

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CH3CHO, what about Kaigo Hoken? Two to three visits a week for an hour and a half, when dementia is 24 hours a's a drop in the bucket considering what's needed.

The photo is likely backlit as the woman has dementia and is not capable of consenting to her face being shown. He's dressing her, leave even a mid-stage patient to dress on their own and you'll find them 'dressed' with their underwear on on top of their clothes, or a polo shirt pulled on like pants. Do you want reality, or an air-brushed Aricept commercial?

bosphorus, not true, especially if it is familial. The best prevention is to not get diabetes, or if you do, keep your A1c below 8.

Edit: in my post above, auto-correct changed 'anti-dementia drugs' to 'anti-dentist drugs', sorry for not catching it.

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Read books, write books, play chess, study physics, do other intellectually-challenging work after you retire, and dementia will not develop.

Sorry but this is not true.

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Himajin Today 02:01 pm JST

CH3CHO, what about Kaigo Hoken? Two to three visits a week for an hour and a half, when dementia is 24 hours a's a drop in the bucket considering what's needed.

No. First, the severity of the patient is assessed. If the patient needs 24 hour care, he/she is accepted in nursing home using kaigo hoken.

The photo is likely 

Maybe, maybe. Speculation on speculation. Who would think a news photo that only gives speculation and no fact is a good one?

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With effective advancements in medicine and early diagnosis dementia is going to --hopefully-- become something of the past.

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The photo looks, to me, an old man who is putting a coat on his grand-daughter. They may be going out for a walk. The man looks old because his back is slightly bent. The figure in the left looks younger because the back is not bent.

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"The government, he said, simply can't achieve its goals without more money." 

This is the "bottom line."  Turmeric,  and other "remedies," etc. for dementia is like

putting a band aid on a hemorrhage.  The Japanese have to face reality.  There will be a need for people to staff whatever facilities the government can establish to take care of the old.  The answer in the face of the reality of Japanese demographics is immigration.

Simply put, more people means more tax payers.

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Simply put, more people means more tax payers.

This really is the only solution - other than doing nothing. Japan already has a huge national debt. Only a huge influx of non-Japanese people will alleviate the situation. But the truth of the matter is, Japan will never accept that because they know it will drastically change their culture. That they cannot accept at least for the foreseeable future. Japan will, as a nation, suffer through the aging of the country for the next 50 years or so until they all pass and a younger generation can take over.

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No. First, the severity of the patient is assessed. If the patient needs 24 hour care, he/she is accepted in nursing home using kaigo hoken.

If only! My in-laws got dementia one after the other. When FIL had it, there was no kaigo hoken. It had started once MIL presented with symptoms. She was evaluated! She was put in the 'yoshien' category, the category before kaigo is necessary, although she was obviously in stage 4-5 with working memory of less than 3 minutes. She could stand on one foot for 30 seconds, walk in a straight line, and wash herself in the bath, so she was judged to not need much help. The evaluations were all physical, no dementia level testing whatsoever. That got her 3 visits a week of 1 1/2 hours each. I'm living this, and I see EXACTLY what kaigo hoken gets you. There are so many dementia patients that they are extremely tight with any and all resources. There are not nearly enough places in existing homes, and not enough dementia units overall. We got 4.5 hours of help a week, and I supervised her the rest of the time. Whatever explanation you've read about the wonders of kaigo hoken doesn't include anything about the grim reality of trying to actually use it.

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Himajin Today  07:49 am JST

When FIL had it, there was no kaigo hoken.

Kaigo hoken was established in year 2000. So, you are talking about the present situation based on last century.

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He passed in 2003... he was already retired by two decades, he didn't have kaigo hoken. We couldn't register him for it as he was already actively dying (Alzheimer's and cancer). MIL got registered and has it. Her 3 visits a week were very much in this century, and dozens of people we know have elderly at home with various ailments who are getting 2-3 visits a week when they need much more help. MIL was one of the first in her town to use kaigo hoken to get home helpers, and nothing has changed.

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