Firms step in as Japan's retirement homes hit capacity

An elderly woman and a man at a nursing home in Tokyo, Japan.

With a growing demand for nursing care in urban areas, many firms are finding new business opportunities. Elderly patients - many of whom have nowhere to go after leaving a hospital - offer a promising market.

A general hospital in an old downtown area of Tokyo receives direct mail from such companies almost every day. The materials are emblazoned with such phrases as "a facility with wonderful medical care services" and "dementia patients can live with peace of mind."

According to an employee, much of the mail comes from companies outside Tokyo.

"Some of their salespeople have asked to be introduced to patients who are scheduled to be discharged [from a hospital]," the employee said.