Members Article – Have you heard of so-called “Murders in aged care ”?

Can Diversional Therapy save many people who are burdened with care for their family in Japan?

It was 1998 when I meet Diversional Therapy in Australia for the first time. Since then, I have dedicated myself to promoting Diversional Therapy in Japan as a method of Aged Care that supports people to “live happily and worthy of their own ways until the end of life”. How DT has brought fresh ideas into aged care in Japan and helped various aged care facilities to achieve good results. Just as recently as this May, we showcased the bright side of DT in Japan to DTA delegation that visited Japan.

However, in Japan, there are very sad facts. That is, the number of aged people who are killed by their care givers (family members) is about 40 every year and 558 people are killed between 1998 to 2012 (Etsuko Yuhara 2012) including murder-suicide cases. Most of victims are aged people with serious dementia. This number continues to increase despite the fact that a care insurance system, pension plans and a welfare system are well in place. We learn about new “murder in aged care ” on TV news programs far too often.

When I lecture or talk about DT, people almost always say that they have the impression that elderly people in Japan are not so eager to enjoy as Australians. The number of nursing care murders may be an indication of that. However, we have many different leisure activities thought up by average people, such as local and traditional festivals, Kabuki, Karaoke, and so on, and until recently my attention has been almost exclusively directed to positive possibilities of them in Japan.

In 2006, a 62 year old son killed his 86 year old mother with severe dementia in Kyoto and shook the nation. A few years ago, I met a newspaper reporter who had been following the case and gave me an in-depth account of the case. The mother with dementia had troubling behavior problems and did not sleep at night, the son had to quit his job, and they didn’t have enough money to receive care services. While learning these details, I noticed that Diversional Therapy has various kind of theories and practices that could have prevented the tragedy, such as sleep management, some ways of leisure and communication, etc.

“Murders in aged care” are probably inconceivable to occur in Australia. But we should   put a focus them in Japan, and I am going to point out areas where DT is expected to shed light and navigate on this problem in Japan.

There is the reason in here why I’m passionate about DT for such a background in Japan.

Takako Serizawa, President DTAJ

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