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Aging Issues

The Eldercare Workshop - 2008

Under the auspicious of Dr. John B.Tsu Asian Pacific Institute (Executive Director, Prof. Don Campbell) of John F. Kennedy University located in Pleasant Hills in Northern California together with Sun-Life Social and Welfare Organizations and Sun Vision Social and Welfare Organization headquartered in Nagoya, Japan, in collaboration with professional organizations, professional individuals in the Bay area who are engaged in the field of aging and care services for the elderly, and endorsed and supported by National Asian Pacific Center On Aging (not for profit organization located in Seattle) and US Foundation for International Economic Policy (not for profit organization incorporated under the leadership of US Congress and its counterpart in Japanese Diet, designed to promote and enhance the bilateral relationship on trade, education, health and elder care services), the Eldercare Workshop has been the on-going programs for the last 13 years. This eldercare workshop was conducted by the alliance of professional specialists of their respective field, which includes clinical psychologists, elder lawyers, social workers, medical doctors including a licensed specialist as geriatric physicians, and other professional specialists such as Expressive Art Therapy.

Sun-Life Social and Welfare Organization and Sun Vision Welfare Organization have been sending their staff for who are administrators of the various facilities, social workers, nurses, care managers, and other professional staff, to this workshop which are conducted on the campus of JFK-U and other places which includes visit to nursing homes, senior centers for interactions with seniors there through which not only to learn about the way how care services for the elderly are conducted in the States but also sharing the ideas and experiences that they have had as the professional persons in their respective working fields in Japan. There is no national boundary when it comes to the issue of aging, thus, this eldercare workshop has been one of the important areas in the bilateral relationship.

The theme of the sessions at the eldercare workshop has been focused on many pressing and important issues that administrators and their staff working at care facilities of the various types for the elderly are being confronted with. In order to create good and productive working environments for the staff at nursing facilities of the various type similar to the care facilities in the States such as skilled nursing homes, independent living, assisted living facilities, day care centers, day services, group homes and other amenities designed to extend care services for the elderly.

The eldercare workshop has been designed to deal with some of the pressing issues and problems and to improve the working capability of the staff. By doing so, it will in return contribute to enhancement of good care services for the elderly. For this purpose, the sessions at the eldercare workshop has been focusing on the issue of 1) how to enhance team building between levels of care management including communications and trust, 2) fostering empathy toward residents by understanding personal issues, 3) resiliency of care givers; building a caring community through shared experiences, fostering a sense of accomplishments, tapping into their resources etc, 4) promoting a sense of equilibriums and calm at each site. The instructors and presenters at the eldercare workshop have been those who are specialists in their respective fields in medicine, aging issues, clinical physiology, elder laws, specially licensed physician's input into care services including specializations in geriatric medicine and other professional therapeutically oriented activities. Those professional specialists are brought into play an important task of establishing the most effective forces to form a professional Alliance from the Bay area to act a well coordinated group who acted as instructors and presenters to meet the needs of the sessions at the eldercare workshop.

It should be noted that this kind of international cooperation on the issue of aging is so important as we are facing increasingly with newly emerging issues of aging society, one of which may be the entry of so-called gBaby Boomersh into aging society shortly which will likely impact the change of care system due to their line of thinking and life style which are different from that of the older older persons who are already under care.

2008 Eldercare Workshop began its sessions on the campus of JFK-U from June 23rd through 28th, under the collective leadership of the administrators and professional specialists including invaluable task performed by bilingual interpreters and translators. Mrs. Judy Weitzner, Ms. Susan Weiner who are the core of architects of the professional supporting groups since the embankment of this Eldercare Workshop 13 years ago, have acted as the key coordinators with their collaborators which included Mrs. Yayoi Nagano and Mrs. Yoshiko Kuriyama | Imagawa who performed invaluable task of not only interpreting but also guided the participants to enhance their understanding of American culture in the field of aging.

It may be interesting to note that this year's participants have had newly introduced programs at the sessions presented by the noted specialists in their respective professional field. Some of the highlights of the sessions were focused on the subject such as gFamily Issues in Dementia Care Pre-placementh presented by Mrs. Ruth Gay. She elaborated on the importance of options that family of the elderly must decide to choose depending on the psychical and mental conditions of the elderly and other factors such as environmental conditions which may impacts either positively or negatively. It is also pointed out that there should be transparency in terms of relationship between those who are provided with care services and those who extend care services for the elderly. She cited about the importance of how a care giver should think of performing her working assignments; it is so important to think of oneself as a member of the team not as a individual in the task of performing care services. She presented (2) case studies of how families of the two elderly with dementia were decided to move their elderly into nursing facilities which were the outcome of the conferences of the families in consultations with the professional specialists. It is a difficult decision for any family to decide when their member of the family should be sent into a facility from one's home. She stressed the importance of establishing a better relationship between the cared and care givers, which will create healthy physical and metal health condition of the elderly out of which the family are being liberated from stress and anxieties.

One of the presenters was Ms. Nancy Schier Anzelmo who has been active and the noted specialist and researches on Alzheimer and those elderly suffering from it at University of California at Sacrament and other research institutes in the Bay area. Her presentation dealt with a new idea of how to cope with those elderly suffering from Alzheimer. She stresses the importance of establishing a system of how to provide care services for those elderly which is a clear shift from gFacility dictated care services to residents centered care servicesh. She pointed out that it is so productive and valuable to let the elderly to strive for the motivation of having the sense of gself-independenceh from which care givers will also benefits in their task of developing a good relationship with the elderly. Her remarks included the following points which are, as she stated, to be a clear departure from the conventional care services. It is emphasized that efforts should be made of revitalizing the residual abilities that the elderly may still possess, thus, the elderly will be motivated for challenges in their lives. Environmental change is needed to activate the minds of the elderly. It should be more at home settings which should be architecturally designed even they are residing at the various type of facilities. She elaborated further by citing that it is so important to motivate the minds of the elderly through the various kinds of activities including exercises such as the way by which the elderly may be able to draw their road map in their aging period. She also stressed the role that care givers should play by way of being supporter rather than being initiator for anything that the elderly may be interested in performing at activities exercises. She concluded by saying that care givers should try to revitalize the ability of the elderly so that the elderly would be more independent in their daily lives. She cited that gDo not draw the line between the cared and care giversh and just being a good friend of the elderly, which makes it more natural for them to lead their lives. We are aware of the fact that not only the governments at both Federal and State level but also at private sectors, intensive and in-depth researches are being conducted to see how it is best to deal with the elderly who are suffering from Alzheimer. It has provided a new in-sight into the issue of the elderly with Alzheimer and Dementia with whom care givers are daily engaged in their task of providing their care services.

Other highlights of the sessions this year's eldercare workshop was the presentation by geriatric physicians of the role that geriatric physicians play in the assessment of the needs of care services for the elderly. Under the theme of g A Whole Person Approach to Assessmenth, Dr. Bree Johnson, MD and Dr.Christine Kistler, MD have made their presentations. The focal point of their assertions are of the importance of the role that geriatric physicians can play which is increasingly invaluable due to the complexes conditions in which the elderly are placed which will likely force them to be in a situation of under long-term care services more than it had been predicted a decade ago. It is the time now which requires the involvement of well trained geriatric physicians who are able to see overall aspect of the uniqueness of health and mental condition of the elderly which is often overlooked by non-geriatric physicians. Geriatric physicians are also playing an important role of educating non-geriatric physicians about the unique health and mental conditions of the elderly, so that a combined team of physicians, nurses, social workers, care givers and other professional specialists can perform the better job in the field of care services, in particular, under long-term care services are in place. On this issue, Japan is still not as per as the States.

Although the new approach to care services for the elderly is constantly in the process of being reassessed as we uncover the new evidences and scientifically supported concepts which could improve the care services environment and system for the elderly in need of care services, we can not but overlook the important role that care givers are performing their task of care giving. The mounting problems and issues confronting care givers are so enormous. For an instance, shortage of labor forces in this field is critical in terms of maintaining the care system and its viability in the increasingly growing aging populated society and also their departure from their works could be a threatening factor for the viability of well trained care services system. It may bring about the demise of the good care system which could lead to the degradation of Social Security Policy and Programs we enjoy that is considered as the most important base for maintaining so-called gCivil Minimumh for the nations which claim to be the nation of Democracy, unless the whole world should try to cope with this issue more seriously and jointly through international cooperation and collaboration.

Care givers working at the various facilities are constantly faced with the mounting issues and problems. Ms. Susan Weiner who has been one of the longest inhabitants of  the Eldercare Workshop as an instructor and presenter has played a very active and challenging role in this year's workshop. By observing the task that care givers are performing at the various types of facilities in Japan, she said once that gcare workers were feeling stress, isolation, and were reacting to sudden shift assignments in some casesh. She elaborate it further by saying that g by allowing them to realize that they had the capacity to relieve stress, join together for support and joy, and could communicate their concerns positively, they expressed relief and hopefulness. Providing opportunities for hopefulness and connection helps to make work meaningful, and may allow for a stronger sense of loyalty for their colleagues, the elderly and the organization to which they belong.h

Ms. Susan Weiner conducted gExpressive Arts Therapyh session by which she tried to pass her message that it is they (care givers) who must resolve the problems being  confronted through this type of therapy which may help to relieve the stress and anxieties rooted deeply in their mind. As we know, Expressive Art Therapy is one of the branches of Clinical Psychology and she used the tool of gMask Makingh to let the participants to practice the stress and emotional relief exercises. Together with Mrs.Yayoi Nagano, Ms. Susan Weiner introduced the Yoga as one of the means to enhance the peace of minds for care givers as another type of exercises to create gtranquility and serenity g for the enhancement of the peace of minds.

As we are witnessing, the increasingly accelerating aging populated society is reality. The entry of so-called Baby Boomers into the aging society shortly will impact us in many ways in our society. The issue of the elderly is not the issue of one nation but it is that of the whole world. In this sense, international cooperation and collaboration on the issue of aging is so important, thus, it should be formed and called for gthe Summit on Agingh by the leaders of the world to share the issues and problems that each nation is being confronted with.

US Foundation for International Economic Policy working together with JFK-U and Sun-Life Social & Welfare Organizations and Sun Vision Social & Welfare Organization as well as the National Asian Pacific Center On Aging are proud of the vision and action taken to embark on this important programs that the late Dr. John B. Tsu initiated as Chairman of the Foundation and also as a member of the Regent of JFK-U.

It is also commended that Dr.Teruhisa Mokuno, CEO of Sun-Life Social & Welfare Organization and Sun Vision Social & Welfare Organization has taken his strong  personal interest in this workshop since the first workshop was held 13 years ago as it will and has been contributing to the wellbeing of the elderly and those who are providing the care services for the elderly at their facilities with new concepts and experiences that they have gained through international exchange and cooperation. Dr. Steven A. Stargardter, President of JFK-U and its members of the Regent have supported this workshop for which the parties involved in this program are appreciative of their continued support of this program.

For the further information on this program, please contact: hoosiera@tke.att.ne.jp

Written and edited by Mr.Yusuke Kataoka, Acting Chairman & Executive Director
US Foundation for International Economic Policy.