To the Editor: Japan, although it has the longest life expectancy in the world, has dramatically transformed its living arrangements for older adults in the past few decades. The number of elderly people who live alone has reached epidemic proportions, with more than 4.3 million. These individuals are not only slightly older and unhealthier than elderly people living with someone else, but also have less communication with their neighbors; 8.9% of elderly Japanese people living alone do not communicate with their neighbors in their everyday lives. The collapse of the conventional local community ties may have caused problems leading to Kodokushi (solitary death) or passing away alone at home, unnoticed by anyone else. Elderly people with no one to care for them are at a risk of dying suddenly in their own homes from an accident or a disease. To make matters worse, their bodies are often left unattended for several days, even over months or years. In Japan, it is estimated that nearly 30,000 people die in Kodokushi every year. This letter reports on Kodokushi in a Japanese urban area and discusses the role of social networks in solving the problem. The data for this study were
Journal of American Geriatrics Society – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2011
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