The welfare ministry plans to launch a project in fiscal 2019 to provide better aid to dementia patients by matching them with volunteer supporters, informed sources said. The project will include providing subsidies to coordinators that connect dementia patients and their families with supporters who would, for instance, tag along when they go out or do casual exercise. The ministry plans to earmark funds in its budget request for fiscal 2019 starting next April, the sources said Sunday. Prefectural governments will be in charge of the project. The ministry is considering allowing them to outsource it to municipalities.
The number of people with dementia who were reported missing hit a record high in 2016, figures released Thursday show, highlighting the difficulty in dealing with elderly care in a rapidly aging society. The National Police Agency said 15,432 people with dementia, including those suspected to be suffering from the condition, were reported missing in 2016, up 26.4 percent from the previous year. The upward trend has been constant since the agency started keeping statistics five years ago. The agency's data showed that the figure, which stood at 9,607 in 2012, surpassed 10,000 for a fourth consecutive year. The whereabouts of 15,314 people were located in 2016, including those reported missing in preceding years, but 191 have yet to be found.
The government aims to train some 12 million people nationwide by the end of fiscal 2020 to give support to dementia patients, informed sources said. The new numerical target will be included in the "Orange Plan" national strategy on dementia care, compiled chiefly by the health ministry in 2015, the sources said Friday. Anyone can become a supporter for dementia sufferers after completing training programs offered by a local government or a company. The government initially set the goal of training 8 million people to give support to dementia patient by the end of fiscal 2017, which started April 1. But it raised the target because as of the end of fiscal 2016 8.8 million people had already become supporters, the sources said.
The government will scrap a plan to set a numerical target for reducing the number of dementia patients, bowing to pressure from patients' families and lawmakers, sources close to the matter said Monday. Last month it presented the draft policy guidelines to a panel of experts on the disease, which involves a decline in cognition including memory loss, aiming to reduce the number of patients in their 70s by 10 percent over the next decade. But families and supporters criticized the move, saying a numerical target would only entrench prejudice toward dementia patients by implying the illness is tied to their lack of effort. "We will not include a numerical target for prevention," a government official said. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet is expected to approve the guidelines on measures to cope with dementia later this month.
KOBE – Health ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized countries agreed Monday to boost dementia care measures amid the rapid graying of societies, as they wrapped up a two-day meeting in Kobe. Representatives from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and the European Union acknowledged the importance of "building a system of caring for (people with dementia) within the communities" where they live, health minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki said at a news conference after the meeting. The ministers also agreed to improve dementia patients' lives through early diagnosis and better care, while encouraging research that could speed up the development of dementia therapies, according to their joint declaration. It is the first time that the G-7 health chiefs have focused on dementia-related issues, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. The outcome reflected discussions at the G-7 leaders' summit in May in Mie Prefecture, where the G-7 members confirmed the need to address problems related to aging.