In Japan, daycares are a popular option, not just for toddlers but also for people with dementia. “Six or seven per cent of the whole over-65 population goes to daycare,” says John Creighton Campbell, an expert on long-term care in Japan. “It takes people out of their home environment and gives their family caregivers a break.” Inside a charming bungalow, five staff and a nurse care for a dozen people — one of about 300 such daycares in Tokyo’s largest borough.
Today, the sounds of sizzling fish and clinking porcelain spill out of the kitchen; twice a week, the patients, ranging from ages 59 to 98, are encouraged to cook their meals. On the menu: salmon, soba noodles and miso soup.
The daycare’s goal is to keep everyone physically and mentally active, in hopes of slowing the disease’s progression. Daily activities include day trips and art therapy and storytelling sessions. The daycare also provides transportation so that family caregivers don’t have to scramble after work to pick up their loved ones.