Main Article Content
In Japan, aging is expected to progress further at a serious pace; therefore, the Japanese government and administrations at all levels have responded to this matter by initializing policies and plans for the management of the elderly society. This research aimed to describe the following issues: (1) long-term care insurance for the elderly and (2) health care services for the elderly. The research was based on the principles of documentary and qualitative research. The data were collected via document research and interviews with the Kobe Municipal officers which was composed of the chief and three staff members of the Elderly and Welfare Section for policies, plans, and management of the aging society in the Kobe Municipality during October- November, 2014. In addition, the data were collected from interviews with twenty elderly Japanese people who participated in Shiawase–no-mura (the Comprehensive Welfare Complex). Content analysis was used to analyze the data.
The research findings were as follows: (1) long-term care insurance for the elderly is a policy that provides care for the elderly, and is based on “Welfare Law for the Elderly” which was designed for low income elderly who have no family to care for them. However, the new long-term care insurance departs from past practices with respect to the following: (a) shifting the major responsibility for care giving from family to the state; (b) integrating medical care and social services via unified financing; (c) enhancing consumer choice and competition by allowing free choice of providers; (d) requiring older persons themselves to share the costs via insurance premiums as well as copayments; and (e) expanding local government autonomy and management capacity in social policy. (2) As far as health care services for the elderly is concerned, the Japanese government’s initiative, the Welfare Law for the Elderly, has a special system for the elderly, called “Health Service System for the Elderly.” The facility services in special nursing homes and home care aid services are funded by taxes. For, the Kobe Municipal has policies, plans, and management designed for the aging society: the long-term care insurance is that in which Kobe city is equipping itself to manage effectively the trend of increasing numbers of aging people by launching the statement, “keep life and take care” as well as planning for aged people with Alzheimer’s disease and aged people who are isolated. Kobe established the “Shiawase–no-mura”: the Comprehensive Welfare Complex designed for the elderly including the disabled and all the members in the family, and the program called Kobe Senior Citizens’ College or “Silver College,” which provides for the elderly to maintain life-long learning. The curriculum is composed of a general course which provides general education, sports, and health management studies, and the special courses include welfare community, living environment, international exchange, cooperation, and general art.
The research finding suggested that long-term care insurance, health care services and colleges for the elderly should be promoted to improve the quality of their life.