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National Roll-out of the Campaign to Understand Dementia and Build Community Networks

In Japan, where the number of people with dementia is estimated to have reached 1.7 million in 2005 (out of a population of 127.7 million), dementia is no longer a "somebody else's business" but a big challenge for the whole nation. A person with dementia was once considered to be "someone who lost the ability to recognize anyone or anything," or "someone who did one strange thing after another," and was the target of social prejudice. There have been, however, more and more cases in which the patients themselves participate in symposiums or other events to talk about their own painful experiences and express their desire to stay involved in society in whatever way they can. Studies have shown that the peripheral symptoms of dementia are greatly affected by the attitudes of the surrounding people. This has contributed to a growing recognition in Japan that the society should not leave the care of people with dementia to only medical staff or welfare service providers. It is now considered crucial that residents have a proper understanding of dementia, and can support people with this condition in the community in which they live.
Taking these social circumstances into account, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, together with organizations concerned with dementia, launched a 10-year nationwide public campaign in FY 2005. It is called the Campaign to Understand Dementia and Build Community Networks. The campaign has been promoted by an organization called 100-Member Committee to Create Safe and Comfortable Communities for People with Dementia (in short, 100-Member Committee), consisting of about 100 organizations and individuals, with Tsutomu Hotta, C.E.O. of Sawayaka Welfare Foundation, serving as its chairman. The committee membership includes:1) intellectuals who are national opinion leaders, 2) enterprises and organizations deeply rooted in the community life including national trade organizations of banks and convenience stores, and 3) health, medical care and welfare institutions with a national network. In their fields they actively support people with dementia and their families, upholding the campaign programs.

Four major programs of the Campaign to Understand Dementia and Build Community Networks:

1.Nationwide Caravan to Train One Million Dementia Supporters

Central to the campaign is the Nationwide Caravan to Train One Million Dementia Supporters. This program aims at training, in next five years, one million "dementia supporters" who understand the characteristics of the disability and provide support for afflicted persons and their families. Through its training courses, 39,000 dementia supporters were trained nationwide as of April 2006  

2.Support for the Associations of People with Dementia and Their Families

In recent years, it has become more common for associations of families of dementia patients to provide occasions for people with dementia to interact with one another. The program supports such an effort.

3.Care Management Fully Involving Dementia Patients and Their Families

This program aims at designing a care management program for people with dementia that fully incorporates the desires and initiatives of the afflicted persons and their families, within the framework of the Long-term Care Insurance System. For example, by having the people with dementia fill in the assessment sheet, the program aims at making the care more person-centered. This program offers courses and reporting sessions on this approach on a national level.

4.Campaign to Build a Dementia-Friendly Community

This campaign solicits examples of innovative projects which have successfully built a community where people with dementia can live a safe and independent life. It also recognizes noteworthy projects. Such projects were first recognized at the 20th International Conference of Alzheimer's Disease International in Kyoto in fall 2004. In the second year of its operation (FY2005), the program was acknowledged as one of the mainstays of the One-Year Campaign to Learn About Dementia. On February 4, 2006, the second presentation of awards was held in conjunction with the 2nd 100-Member Committee Conference. This time, the 8 award-winners were selected among 77 applications, which far exceeded the number submitted in the previous years.
The 100-Member Committee has established a working group for each of these four programs. On February 4, 2006, each working group gave a progress report on their respective program at the second annual conference of the 100-Member Committee. At this meeting, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare recognized the solid progress made by the Campaign to Understand Dementia and Build Community Networks. The Ministry also expressed its resolution to make further efforts toward the success of the programs. In this way, efforts are being made toward building communities where people with dementia can lead a full life and their families receive support from their communities.

International Longevity Center-Japan serves as one of the secretariats for the 100-Member Committee and also as a public relations office.

Note: In addition to supporting the 100-Member Committee, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has been taking various measures against dementia They include providing training for family doctors in treating people with dementia, training of physicians specialized in dementia, promoting programs related to prevention and care of dementia in the community, providing support to families of people with dementia, and training programs for staff engaged in the professional care of dementia.

Reference: Estimate of Older Persons with Dementia among Those Receiving Care (or Support) Need Certification

Residence and Independency Level of Older Persons with Dementia

(Unit: thousand)


  Persons certified in need of care (or support) Residence when applied for certification
HomeSpecial Nursing Homes for the ElderlyHealth Facilities for the ElderlySanatorium-
type Medical Facilities
Other facilities
Total 31402100320250120340
Independency levelor higher 1490730270200100190
Independency levelor higher 790(250)280(150)200(40)130(40)80(10)110(20)

Note: Estimated as of September, 2002 In parentheses: Older persons with dementia whose physical ability is less declining. (Dementia independency level", or M"and physically independent level"J or A.")
Other facilities: Medical bodies, group homes, care houses.

Future Estimate

(Unit: thousand)


Year 2002 2005 2010 2015 2020 2025 2030 2035 2040 2045
Older persons
with dementia
levelor higher
Older persons
with dementia
levelor higher

Note: The Rates of 65+ to the total population in parentheses

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