Accepted Paper:

Age-friendly community and cultural resources: considering the experience of care workers in a private sector elderly care institution that experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake  


Nanami Suzuki (National Museum of Ethnology)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation considers valid cultural resources and the issues involved in creating an age-friendly community, based on the ethnographic fieldwork as well as interviews and discussion with care workers of an elderly care institution that experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011.

Paper long abstract:

In Natori, Miyagi Prefecture that suffered the devastating tsunami in the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, an elderly care institution in the private sector that was designated as an emergency shelter, has since developed activities to meet the needs of older adults.

This presentation examines the challenges of finding and developing cultural resources toward creating a new community based on the experiences of care workers who have engaged in support activities.

The institution has offered "home help" for the aged which is a visiting service to each home, and day care activities performed with an institution. The care workers have made nutritious meals with which older adults are pleased, and tried to solve their problems and worries.

Multi-generational and cross-cultural exchange essential when caring for the elderly who have experienced a radical change of life, such as being forced to move, has resulted in the wisdom of new community formation and healing experiences obtained by expressing a common experience.

On the other hand, care workers have experienced difficulties in balancing the taking care of others and themselves when they themselves are in need of adequate support and rest, and at risk of suffering PTSD.

We consider the challenges involved in the creation of an age-friendly community, such as cooperation of older adults to participate in activities with the younger generation who have greater flexibility in lifestyles, as well as the path of cooperation between the public and private sectors.

Panel P027
Considering ideas and practices to create "age-friendly communities" (NME/Commission on Aging and the Aged panel)