Departmental Bulletin Paper The Role of Meals in the Well-being of American and Japanese Elderly : Meal Programs at Senior Centers and Senior Day-service Centers
日米における老後のウェルビーイングに果たす食事の役割 : とシニアデイサービスセンターの食事プログラムの事例からシニアセンター

佐野(藤田), 眞理子  ,  Mariko, Fujita-Sano

40 ( 3 )  , pp.485 - 505 , 2016-01-28 , 国立民族学博物館 , National Museum of Ethnology
Meals are essential for everyone to survive. However, as people’s healthand mobility decline, their access to meals becomes problematic, especiallyfor the elderly living alone. Based on field research conducted in the UnitedStates and Japan, this paper examines various innovative ways in whichmeals have been used to ensure the well-being of the elderly.The paper first examines various barriers imposed upon access to mealsfor the elderly in super-aging societies. Then, it turns to an examination ofthe roles of senior centers and senior day-service centers in that respect. Oneof the most important services for the elderly in American senior centers isthe congregate meal program, which ensures a nutritionally-balanced meal atleast once a day, thus helping them maintain independent lives, and providesopportunities for them to socialize with other seniors. The paper also looks ata similar case of Japan, with a discussion of one particular senior day-servicecenter and its creative ways to channel participants toward really “working”in a rehabilitation program without feeling forced to do so.The third section of the paper examines efforts and programs to supportseniors who are homebound. Going shopping and getting daily goods suchas food are serious problems for the elderly living in depopulated villageswith limited public transportation. Also, many seniors suffer from chronicillnesses that impose dietary restrictions. The paper discusses meal-deliveryservices in the United States, as well as a community-based collaborativemodel involving various actors, including local governments, corporations,social agencies, and neighborhood associations in Japan.This paper argues that merely helping the elderly gain access to meals isnot enough to ensure their well-being. The measures taken must also contributeto the following:■ Maintaining independent living at home.■ Ensuring that meals are nutritionally-balanced and respect dietary restrictions.■ Providing opportunities for the elderly to socialize with other people, atlittle cost.■ Facilitating opportunities for the elderly to find meaningful lives in theirold age through meal-related activities.

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