By Takashi Yabuta (UWCAC 2016-2018)
In developed countries, the aging society is becoming a huge issue. The causes are the low birth rate and the low mortality rate. It is said that the burden of caring for the elderly that the working generation has will get bigger as the demographic transition goes on, which means young people have to take care of elderly family members both physically and economically.
Aging society did not appear until recent years. Even countries which are now called developed countries had the same demographic structure as the current developing countries have. For example, in my country Japan, the birth rate and the mortality rate were relatively high before the end of the World War 2. But after the war, medical systems developed and the mortality rate lowered, and the population increased, relived from the tension of the war which had reduced childbirth. After a while, people lost motivation to give birth and raise children for several reasons, such as the increasing cost of raising children and the change of people’s views. It is estimated that one fifth of Japanese population will be over 65 years old in 2020. Considering how the demographic transaction goes on, you could say that this change will happen to any current developing country in the world. Aging society is the result of a matured society.
My almost 90-year-old grandfather started living in an nursing home this year after being hospitalized. My grandmother lives with her daughter (my aunt), relying on her physically. I see my parents feel responsible to take care of them and it sometimes seems to burden them. I will have more of a burden than my parents have now when I become their age. Having seen those elderly people in Japan, I wanted to be involved in caring elderly people, so I joined Social Justice faculty at AC.
My favorite activity is Music For Fun of the faculty. I go to a nursing home with other members and sing songs, like Yellow Submarine by Beatles. Whenever I go to an elders home, I come across the shining faces of elderly people, which makes me happy. Singing songs is the most fun part. We sing songs happily with funny dances, forgetting how embarrassed we would be if we were seen by others in another situation. Then, we chat with the elderly people there about various topics from how smart an elderly woman’s grandson is to how her life in Saudi Arabia was. Throughout each session, I always feel the elderly people there enjoy the time.
This kind of transaction between the elderly and the young is necessary for the elderly to live healthily. Taking care of the elderly is often discussed in negative context as “costly”, “time-consuming” and so on. However, there are also many advantages of taking care of them; learning from the experiences that the elderly had, having fun in a new way like Music For Fun. Stimulating interactions between the elderly and the youth will create a society friendly to the elderly, which is necessary considering that many societies are likely to become aging ones.