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Two elderly sisters found dead of apparent heatstroke in their home

23 Comments

The bodies of two sisters, one in her late 80s and the other in her 90s, were found Monday in their home in Tokyo, police said Tuesday, adding they believe the women died of heatstroke.

According to police, the bodies were found at around 6 p.m. in their two-story house in Shinjuku Ward. One body was in the kitchen and the other in a tatami mat room on the first floor.

Police said they were alerted by a neighbor who was concerned about the sisters after seeing several days of newspapers stuffed in the mail box, and a light on on in the house.

Police said there was no air conditioner in the house and no fans either. An uchiwa (Japanese fan) was found beside one of the bodies.

A neighbor said the sisters were last seen about a week ago. The newspapers in the mailbox were from Aug 12.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the temperature in Tokyo since Aug 11 averaged about 35 degrees.

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23 Comments
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Hoping they went peacefully.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Tragic.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

'Police said there was no air conditioner in the house and no fans either. An uchiwa (Japanese fan) was found beside one of the bodies.'

Man,this 2019 not 1919.......what the hell is happening?

This in a place that is supposed to respect the aged.

An utter travesty.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

You can buy an electric fan (made in China) @ the home centre for 2,000 Yen.

Would have been the difference between life and death.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

It's so sad they died alone. Being in their 80's and 90's it is likely their wonderful Japanese pension had run out and they were living on basic welfare, which gives them no extra money for luxuries like, a fan. One would have to guess they had no family either. This is something that should not happen in a so-called, modern country.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

People die.

even people in their 80s and 90s.

people of that age died in summer decades before air conditioning.

They might have been better off than the ones confined to beds for a year or two more in an air conditioned aged care facility.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

I'm guessing they no children to take care of them. Sad...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

You can buy an electric fan (made in China) @ the home centre for 2,000 Yen.

Older people do not feel the extremeties of heat and cold as well as you do when younger, that's why so many are vulnerable to hypothermia in winter too. Also, there is a possibility one or both had age related dementia some any kind. Dehydration is also an issue with older peope as their thirst instinct isn't as good, or mobility issues means it's just too much effort/impossible to get up and get a drink regularly.

Other factors to consider;

Perhaps they were housebound.

Perhaps they had no transport if they were mobile.

Perhaps they couldn't access public transport.

Perhaps they couldn't spare 2,000 yen.

It could be all or some of the above. It's never so simple as saying 'They should have bought a fan'.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I don't know if it's true or not but I've heard and read news stories that many elderly Japanese people actually don't like to use air conditioning, especially when they sleep. I wonder why.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Police said there was no air conditioner in the house and no fans either. An uchiwa (Japanese fan) was found beside one of the bodies.

It is not simply about the cost of buying aircon (expensive) or a fan. They have to go to a home centre, choose one from the vast array. deal with pushy salespeople, pay even more for installation and delivery, and then have the worry of increased bills. It is overwhelming.

This has been happening more often, I have noted it these past few summers - the isolated elderly, unable to manage to arrange such things, and (presumably) with nobody around to do for them, cannot survive the summer heat. If the more active carer goes, then the other, weaker one being mostly cared for, will also die. Very sad.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

You can buy an electric fan (made in China) @ the home centre for 2,000 Yen.

Aye but you might not be mobile or have the means and money to, unfortunately.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I'm wondering if one of the reasons is because Japanese people don't seem to perspire as much as others. Perspiration is a necessary mechanism to cool down the body.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

@Maria, this is right .

1 ( +1 / -0 )

RIP.

Given the extent of the heatwave, 3C above average continuously in Tokyo during the three hottest weeks of the year, this is going to happen unfortunately. That level of extra heat will kill in many hot locations. Independent old people who get by without health visitors may be most at risk. Perhaps what the government should do is declare an emergency and have plans established so that a community-wide approach can be taken to keep people safe. Tokyo is hot, but these sisters were killed by a heatwave.

(Regarding the asides about the cost of fans, the newspaper subscription they had would cost more. This generation of people generally buy electrical goods from those tiny electrical stores you see in old neighbourhoods, not megastores. Those shops, which have mostly pamphlets and very little stock aside from light bulbs and batteries, are dying out, so they may not have had one near)

0 ( +2 / -2 )

redmango: "you can buy an electric fan (made in China) @ the home centre for 2,000 Yen. Would have been the difference between life and death."

Wrong. Once the air is above a certain temperature, using a fan to blow it in your face INCREASES the odds of heatstroke. That's why I get a chuckle out of all the idiots using the hand-held USB fans popular this season... in a room where they air is cooler than your body heat, it can help, but once it is above that, you could kill yourself. Have you ever stood in front of or walked past an air-conditioner's external unit fan in the summer? It just blows hot air in your face, and will kill you.

RIP to these elderly women, but it is shocking that in this day and age, when it is blisteringly hot and getting hotter still, people refuse to use air-conditioning and unbelievably dress in MORE clothes.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

I'm not a medical professional, but from what I hear, elderly people's bodies simply cannot adjust to heat or cold the way younger people's bodies can.

Perhaps the heatstroke had set in without the two ladies knowing it or feeling its onset, by which time it was too late.

That's why the elderly really need someone to be with them, especially when it's very hot or very cold.

My grandmother, who died at 100, had to have the room temperature carefully controlled in her house the last several years of her life, because if it got too hot or too cold, her body wouldn't adjust and the doctor said it could be very dangerous for her.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@smartacus

I don't know if it's true or not but I've heard and read news stories that many elderly Japanese people actually don't like to use air conditioning, especially when they sleep. I wonder why.

It was never in their habit. They've spent their entire 90 years in Japan, and so are adapted to the climate.

Sadly, post-war buildings are not so well adapted to either extremes in the climate which has increased the problem, eg small western sized windows, no verandas for shade, no underfloor ventillation, no natural convection etc.

To be honest, it's not a bad way to go. You get sleepy, then you don't wake up.

@gaijinpapa

+1 on all that.

It is not better to die naturally? There are always seasonal spikes due to extremes of weather, and have been for as long as we have existed.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Disillusioned, “Being in their 80's and 90's it is likely their wonderful Japanese pension had run out and they were living on basic welfare”

By Japanese pension do you mean Kokumin Nenkin? If so, note that that pension does not “run out”, it is received until the death of the pensioner.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I watched a news program recently where the doctor asked these old people why they weren’t using the a/c (they were obviously in hospital for heat stroke) and they were replying they didn’t like air conditioners. So even if they have them and even if they can afford the electricity to use them they don’t.

Its really sad!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I don't like air conditioners, they dry up my mucous membranes and add to the heat outside. We do use it when the heat gets too much, like last night, but in general try not to use them. My MIL is loathe to use hers as she just feels a big draught. When you get to a certain age draughts are more than just an annoyance.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My J wife generally will not allow the aircon to be switched on. She is probably conscious of the electricity bill. When she is away I use it in one room to reduce the heat and humidity a little, and a fan to move the air around. From 35 down to 28 is heaven! Once she came home suddenly, discovered the thing was on, switched it off and threw open the windows. “Much healthier!” she announced.

Fine in the countryside, or in the city if you have a large garden, maybe... but when your paperwork sticks to your arms you need to do something.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

My J wife and I are elderly. We don't use the ac overnight but I use a slow rotating electric fan next to my bed and leave the bedroom window open. We use the ac when we are eating but turn it off when we have finished. We have a smaller dining room with ac which we use if it is too hot.

We live in a place with a good wind from the sea which helps.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Salt would have helped, but if it was their time there was nothing anyone could have done

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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