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Giving lectures on nursing care for men in a remote island with an aging rate of 70%

Following the previous issue, this column is about nursing care classes for men.
Located at the western edge of Ojika peninsula, Ajishima is an island with a population of 400 people, boasting a beach with the clearest waters in Miyagi prefecture and a rich fishing ground. It takes an hour by car from central Ishinomaki, and an additional 20 minutes from there by ferry.

[Staff moving from the wharf to the venue]

The island used to be prosperous as the base of a deep-sea fishing industry, but now 70% of its population is the elderly. Many of them wish to spend the last years of their lives on their home island. But social resources like nursing care facilities are limited. So mutual support of citizens is the key to make their wishes come true.

For many of the men living on the island, work is equated to their meaning of life, human relations, and hobbies. In other words, they may be isolated when they become ill or incapable of working or fishing.

“They should know how to handle emergency situations, have someone whom they can confide in and have friends who can help one another. Such daily mutual support is important to enrich their lives”, say Amishou Hospital and Ojika Community Integrated Support Center who are involved in building the community-based integrated care system.

So, on June 22, JEN and its partner “Otokono Kaigo Kyoshitsu” started the men’s nursing care class for the first time in Ajishima.

[Briefing before the class]

The assembly room in Amishou Hospital, which used to be an elementary school in the middle of two villages, is the venue for the class.

Elderly men in their 60s to 90s arrive at the classroom equipped with food ingredients and cooking utensils brought by the Otokono Kaigo Kyoshitsu staff early in the morning from Ojika Peninsula.

[The entire staff meeting in front of the kitchen utensils brought in]

[Sorting ingredients for easy usage]

After the lecture from a dietitian, they started cooking. The participants, all men, made balanced meals using canned and frozen good. They had very good knife skills.

The participants said that they joined the deep-sea fishery crew after graduation from junior high school and worked in the kitchen for the first two years. The meals were instantly ready. The staff and participants enjoyed the time together by talking about their work while on board the fishing vessels, and their lives on the island.

After the meal, dentist Dr. Kawase gave a talk about dental care and health. He explained the importance of maintaining a good oral health, which can also lead to a healthy life, while making the audience laugh with his jokes.

[Dr. Kawase giving lecture]

3 hours passed so quickly.
The participants said,
“It was like a young man’s association.”
“I had a great meal with everyone.”
“I could talk to a person that I don’t usually speak to.”

[The participants]

When asked if they would come the next time, many of them raised their hands.

The community-based integrated care system aims for the happiness of elderly to the last moment of their lives in their home ground by mutual support.

The nursing care class in Ajishima indicated how this community and other communities in aging Japan should be directed.

June 29, 2017 in Tohoku earthquake |