Japan has the largest percentage of elderly people in the world, with 27.3 percent of its citizens 65 years and older. While the current situation in Japan seems extreme, the rest of the world is also aging fast. By 2050, the global population of those aged 65 and older is projected to nearly double to 1.6 billion. The number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to more than double—from 46 million today to over 98 million by 2060. This global graying has given birth to a new phrase: “super-aging.” A nation is said to be super-aged when more than 1 in 5 of its people are 65 and older.
A recent Pew Research survey revealed that the Japanese are the most pessimistic about living in old age. I will explore some of the issues that have recently surfaced in Japan, including the growing burden of home care—as half of family caregivers are 65 and older with their own health issues—and rising incarceration rates among seniors.
But this project will strive to document more than just pessimism and despair. It will also focus on how Japan has embraced technology to solve some of the challenges in a super-aging society. And while this project centers on Japan, it will contain universal truths about how we all age, and about how our modernizing world takes care of—or fails—the elderly.