Who Will Care for the Elderly?

August 14, 2018The Topic: Who Will Care for the Elderly?The News Story: Aging Japan—Robots May Have Role in Future of Elder CareThe New Research: How Brazil’s Retreat From Childbearing is Making Elder Care Difficult The News Story: Aging Japan—Robots May Have Role in Future of Elder Care Japan was one of the first countries to face a declining birthrate and hence a dwindling workforce. By 2035, a Reuters story reports, the population is estimated to be one-third 65 years of age and older. But the Japanese government has been seeking an unlikely remedy to the problem of who is to care for this growing population of older adults—robots. “Robots have the run of Tokyo’s Shin-tomi nursing home, which uses 20 different models to care for its residents,” the story reports. “The Japanese government hopes it will be a model for harnessing the country’s robotics expertise to help cope with a swelling elderly population and dwindling workforce.” And while the West may shudder at the idea of robots, “many Japanese see them positively, largely because they are depicted in popular media as friendly and helpful.” The machines help in everything from lifting patients out of bed, to leading group exercises, to providing conversation and companionship. “Everyone is waking up to their aging populations,” says George Leeson, director of the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing. “Clearly robotics is part of that package to address those needs.” And while the idea of robotic elder care may seem like a far-fetched concept, one that would not pick up elsewhere, research out of another country—one not known for its demographic crisis—may make us wonder if such extreme solutions will be a necessity the world over very soon. (Source: Malcolm Foster, “Aging Japan: Robots May Have Role in Future of Elder Care,” Reuters, March 27, 2018) The New Research: How Brazil’s Retreat from Childbearing Is Making Elder Care Difficult T
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