In 2015, Japan’s government released its Orange plan, a package designed to tackle dementia. This includes the development of new drugs, regular home visits and supporting family caregivers.
In particular, the city of Matsudo has put dementia services at the centre of its welfare policy since 2010, after realising early on the challenge of looking after an ageing population. Spearheaded by city hall, the plan consists of raising public awareness, opening dementia drop-in centres and even creating QR codes that can be ironed onto clothing to help police locate the families of people who have wandered from their homes. Upon attending a 90-minute lecture, residents can become “dementia supporters”, who identify themselves by wearing orange bracelets. They are tasked with raising community awareness and assisting those in distress.
With ageing populations now a concern for many countries the world over, services like those implemented in Matsudo demonstrate how communities can better assist those who suffer with dementia. More importantly, they have shown it is possible without removing them from their homes and communities, or having to extensively adapt the local infrastructure to accommodate for their growing needs. Could we see aspects of Japan’s orange plan implemented in other countries who are dealing with similar challenges?