Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology
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 Research on Social and Human Science

Ryutaro Takahashi, M.D., Ph.D., Vice Director

 Awareness of aging in Japan has been maturing. It has been ten years since public long-term-care-insurance was introduced, and during that time, the word “bedridden” disappeared from journals and the media, and we came to call dementia “ninchishô” instead of “chihô”. As exemplified by these changes, the conditions surrounding illness and care have changed significantly in terms of both quality and quantity. Centenarians are not too hard to find these days, and retirement and the “empty nest” are recognized as just two more turning points in life.

  Today’s society is characterized by: first, accelerated speed of aging in urban areas; second, the transition of the weight of the aging population from the World War II generation to the baby-boomer generation; and third, the need to be creative with living arrangements that are outside conventional concepts such as geographic, occupational and kinship affiliation. Amid all this change, as social and human scientists, we must search for the most significant directions for our research.

  I think the most fundamental research goal is to support autonomy and independence of the elderly. For instance, research to support active participations and contributions to society. Also, research on prevention of physical and cognitive decline needs prompt attention. More research on mechanisms to enable older people who need care to remain home, without having to leave their familiar communities, is urgently needed. Furthermore, it is our responsibility to contribute the results of our research to help our society confront the coming reality of the ‘aged society’.

  As we address the people of metropolitan Tokyo as well as people in rural Japan, in Asia and in Western countries, it is our hope to play a part in creating a society that embraces aging.


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