Japan is facing a worsening health crisis where more of its aging population is expected to be diagnosed with dementia over the next several years.
The AFP news agency is reporting that, by 2025, around 7.3 million Japanese residents, or 20 percent of seniors over the age of 65, will suffer from dementia based on figures from the health ministry.
The current number of people with the disorder is estimated to be at least 4.6 million nationally and 44 million globally.
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According to the Alzheimer's Association, "Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example."
The group adds that "Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia."
While the problem affects people worldwide, Japan has been particularly hit hard due to the high proportion of elderly people in its population—estimated to be over 25 percent—and relatively low levels of government funding to help provide care. As a result, the country has faced a number of challenges including a surge in elder-abuse cases and the disappearance of thousands of people with dementia, notes The Guardian.
The private sector, meanwhile, has been responding to the crisis by developing products intended to help sufferers and their families.
A company called FBH Japan recently exhibited a safety bed and wheelchair for such patients, and a security firm has distributed a small locator the elderly can carry so caretakers are able to track their whereabouts.