Tokyo: Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has instructed the concerned government ministries and agencies to introduce routine patrols around and visits to elderly households among new measures to be incorporated while amending the nursing care insurance system in fiscal 2012.
The move comes in the wake of recent revelations that hundreds of elderly people, particularly those who are 100 years old and above, have been missing although they remained registered with local government offices in various parts of Japan.
In addition to around-the-clock patrols and occasional visits to households where elderly people are receiving at-home nursing care, Kan instructed the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry and other organs to include measures to help those living by themselves, either alone or as a couple, move into facilities that can provide better support.
The Prime Minister, in remarks after visiting a facility for the elderly in Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture, also called for extending further support for people with dementia.
Kan also said he will consider proposing a new law to promote establishing facilities that provide such services.
Mentioning an estimate that the number of households comprising only elderly people would rise to 12.7 million in 2025 from 8.5 million in 2005, Kan said the current nursing care insurance system is based on services targeting households in which elderly and younger generations live together.
He said he therefore plans to include such elderly-only households among the target households under the system, which is reviewed every three years.
"As there is an increase in households of elderly people living alone or as a couple, I would like to work on how to realise a society in which those people can feel secure," Kan said.
The problem of missing centenarians has unfolded across Japan since the discovery in Tokyo in late July of a mummified body belonging to the capital`s oldest male resident who was registered as being 111 years old.