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Big Asian companies investing in elderly independence

Countries all over the world are facing how to come to terms with increasingly older populations. From healthcare to independence, mobility, and infrastructure, many governments are debating on how to best help their older residents maintain their quality of life.

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Big Asian companies investing in elderly independence

Countries all over the world are facing how to come to terms with increasingly older populations. From healthcare to independence, mobility, and infrastructure, many governments are debating on how to best help their older residents maintain their quality of life.

In many places, the burden of finding solutions has been placed on the tech sector to innovate and create new ways of supporting elderly people – and many well-known names are stepping up. At a recent exhibition of leading companies in the elderly care and rehabilitation community held in Japan, some of the biggest names in Japanese business were there.

The largest event in Asia, economic heavyweights Toyota, Nissan, Hitachi, Yamaha and Fujitsu were amongst some 500 participants at the 42nd Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition in Tokyo. As Japan’s population ages faster than any other Asian nation, the exhibition was an opportunity to show off a number of new products.

“We are looking at mobility products using robotic technology to assist the elderly to get out of the wheelchair for instance,” said Takaaki Yoshikawa, councillor of advanced R&D planning and promotion at Panasonic told Channel News Asia. “Once they get into a standing position, this mobile device will take them around and will strengthen their muscles so they’re able to be more independent.”

Among those involved in the conference was Yamaha, who are developing new self-powered and motor-assisted wheelchairs. Company leadership say it will benefit the company long term because independence and mobility are huge demands for the future.

There was new technology able to detect the movements and actions of dementia sufferers, and alert care workers if necessary. The range of products, including stairlifts, special railings, and “smart” baths that measure the weight of elderly users, will all be key in the future.

In Japan alone, the related industry was worth more than £7 billion in 2013, more than double from the previous year.

“The evaluation of these devices in terms of benefits of daily lives should be clearly defined,” said Dr Yoshio Matsumoto, team leader of the Service Robots Research Team at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.

In the UK, according to the ONS, in 2012 the number of over 65s and older in the UK surpassed 10 million for the first time. And of all the children born in 2012, an estimated one-third are expected to live at least 100 years.

Image Credit: Garry Knight (flickr.com)

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