1. “Survey of Attitudes toward Health among the Elderly” (by Division of the Aging Society, Cabinet Office)
The sample consists of 3000 people aged 65 and over, of which 41.8% are males and 58.2% are females.
(1) Health Status
When asked about their overall health status, about a half of the respondents (47.4%) reported “excellent” or “good,” 0.8% higher than 5 years before. The proportion of the respondents who reported their health as “poor” or “very poor” declined by 1.3% in 5 years to 26.6%. The proportion of those who rated their health as “fair” was 25.8%, showing little change in 5 years (Table 1).
Table 1: Health Status (%)
In addition, 21.2% of the respondents reported they had health problem(s) that would affect their daily living, while the other 78.7% had no such problem. As for long-term care needs, 8.9% of the respondents either used or were eligible to use services under the national long-term care insurance. Additional 0.8% was applying for the insurance eligibility at the time of the survey, and the rest (about 90%) had no need for long-term care services.
(2) Efforts to Maintain and/or Improve Health
The questions in this section included whether the respondents made such efforts to maintain and/or improve their health as “taking plenty of rests and sleep,” “having nutritionally balanced meals,” and “taking periodic check-ups.” The respondents were more likely to say “Yes” to all of these items than 5 years before, confirming that older adults are making more efforts to stay healthy in recent years.
Related to this subject is the frequency of going out. The survey showed that 41.7% of the respondents went out almost every day. In addition, most respondents reported they tried to have meals with their family members (e.g., spouse, children), while only 16.1% of the respondents said they had meals by themselves.
(3) Medical Services
When asked about informed consents, 10.6% said the system was inadequate. This number is about a half compared with 5 years before (20.2%), suggesting improvement of the services by health care providers.
About life-sustaining treatment at the terminal stage, only 9.2% said they would like to have all the available medical services available to prolong their lives. This number was lower than 5 years before. Most respondents (81.1%) preferred not having the services only to prolong their lives. However, when asked about life-sustaining treatment for their family members, 18.8%, or about twice as many respondents, said they would like to have all the services to prolong their family’s lives.
(4) Health Promotion
As for expectations for the national and local governments regarding health promotion of the elderly, popular responses included “addressing dementia issues (26.2%)” and “prevention of becoming bed-ridden (23.8%).” More than one-third of the respondents (38.6%) had no particular expectation for governments regarding health promotion, showing dramatic growth from 24.9% in the previous survey, which suggests that older adults are increasingly interested in controlling their own health through their mind, exercise and balanced meals.
Next, we would like to talk about another related survey of 1500 “Opinion Members” of Japan NGO Council on Ageing (JANCA). JANCA consists of NGOs which address issues on aging. More detailed information about JANCA will be given later in this report.