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Social services for the elderly based on the new rurality: the Japanese experience

Ogawa, T.
Journal of rural health 2001 v.17 no.4 pp. 374-377
elderly, rural areas, social services, long term care, quality of life, Japan
Since the 1920s, Japan has changed from being a relatively youthful society, with an average age of about 26, to an elderly society with an average age of over 40 (Fordyce, 1999). The number of elderly is rising and the number of births is falling. Concurrently, the health and infrastructure needs of many of the retired elderly are increasing while, for the same retirees, their contribution to productivity and revenue is diminishing (Fordyce, 1999). As the population ages, inevitably the burdens of taxes, pensions, public medical insurance and social services have been rapidly increasing. To meet the challenges of these changes in population structure, Japan has established policies such as the Gold Plan and the Public Long-term Care Insurance Program and it has expanded social services into rural agricultural areas. This article examines those policies and the care services and product ire aging programs that have developed due to population aging and new rural patterns in Japan.