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A Place to Feel at Home and Be Oneself

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The Elderly are not a burden. There are many ways the elderly can be caregivers. Emi Kiyota is the founder of Ibasho. Ibasho promotes the value of socially integrated elders. Dr. Kiyota is an environmental gerontologist and organizational culture change expert who preaches, but more importantly, practices the ideology that nursing homes should give the elderly an opportunity to be useful in society. In March 2016, Dr. Kiyota presented her unique approach to the elderly and inspired ACCESS Health International’s Modern Aging program in Singapore.

A Place to Feel at Home

Ibasho is a Japanese word that means a place where one can feel at home and be oneself. This is the fundamental value underlying the Ibasho organization. The organization has public, open cafes that are operated by its inhabitants. The elderly have a central place in the community. They provide coffee, food, and companionship to all generations. This includes their own. The result of this unique approach is a decrease in loneliness and an increase in self worth. Ibasho also creates active and healthy agers who are self conscious, independent, and valuable. This has resulted in increased levels of happiness and life satisfaction.

The Ripple Effect

During her presentation to the Modern Aging community, Dr. Kiyota presented her approach by providing Japan as an example. After the 2011 tsunami in Japan, many individuals were left homeless and struggling to live. Dr. Kiyota helped the seniors in the damaged area form a community. The community developed basic living skills that were valuable to everyone. The community grew vegetables for example. Consequently, the elderly taught the younger generations how to garden. The community demonstrated high levels of resilience and support by sharing the harvest.

The Ibasho café began to function as a center. It became a place for mental support and knowledge exchange. As Dr. Kiyota had foreseen, a rippling effect became apparently throughout the whole area. The elderly were able to take care of the younger generations and provided an opportunity for others to grow. The center rebuilt lives and homes after the tragic aftermath of the tsunamis.

Changing Our Views

Aging is becoming a worldwide challenge. It is important we change our views of the elderly. The elderly are valuable resources and beacons of knowledge. Society should give them a chance. Their life experiences and wisdom are invaluable to all generations.

More information about the Ibasho café can be found at www.ibasho.org

Fredrik Knoeff

Fredrik Knoeff

Fredrik Knoeff leads the Singapore office. He is passionate about making social change happen.

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