Grandma Gets Abused in Japan

Thousands of elderly people are abused at home by relatives in Japan, news reports said Saturday, as the country faces a rapidly aging population.

More than 12,600 cases of elderly abuse were reported in 2006, almost all of them at home, according to the Health and Welfare Ministry survey released Friday. About 50 cases involved abuse inflicted by staff at nursing homes.

The national survey, the first produced since a law aimed at preventing elderly abuse took effect in April, showed 80 percent of the victims were women aged 80 or older. The survey also showed about 40 percent of the abused suffered from dementia.

Despite Japan’s traditional respect for the aged, increasing life spans and lack of welfare support systems have put increasing pressure on families caring for elderly parents and grandparents.

We often look to other cultures and cite their respect for the elderly. It is part of the reason there is so much guilt associated with having to choose a long term care option for a loved one. So take a lesson. Even a culture highly regarded in caring for their own finds itself in turmoil when faced with so many aging and so many needing care. It really is about knowing your limits as a caregiver, balancing your life and having a life and most importantly starting the hard health care discussions earlier.