Living on tiny pensions, elderly priced out of Tokyo

Living on tiny pensions, elderly priced out of Tokyo

Have you ever thought of where and how you will live when you're elderly? In 10 years, when baby boomers are 75 or older, medical and nursing care facilities are expected to be in short supply in large cities and municipalities. This has triggered discussions on migration of senior citizens to nonmetropolitan areas. This is the first instalment of a series on the reality and problems associated with a "home at the end of the road."

"I have nothing to look forward to," a 77-year-old man, who always wears pyjamas, said while sitting on his bed. "I've just given up."

It has been two years since he moved to this home for the aged in a remote place far from the bustling area of Tokyo's Shinagawa Ward where he had lived for more than 40 years. It takes about two hours by train and car from central Tokyo to get to his new home.

After graduating from a middle school in Saitama Prefecture, the man worked for a small factory and a store in Tokyo. He has never married and lived at a corporate dormitory and other places. He enjoyed watching movies and playing mahjong with friends on holidays.

Several years ago, however, he became ill and was hospitalised. After he was discharged from the hospital, he was admitted to a health care facility for the elderly. In just three months, however, he was urged to leave the facility because he was judged to be healthy enough to return home.

He could not get into a special nursing home for the elderly in Tokyo because there were too many applicants. He had no home to return to, and his relatives could not afford to take him in. With a referral by an official of a health care facility, he was able to find a place at last. It was the only facility he could get into. As there are no places he can visit near the facility, the man said: "All I do is sleep and eat. I just lounge around all day."


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