Building Healthy Communities for Recovery

Oct 13, 2011

Maintaining the Health of Elderly Evacuees

Giving a massage to alleviate pain in the knees
Giving a massage to alleviate pain in the knees

Lack of Activities at Evacuation Centers has been a Serious Problem

Prolonged evacuee life has given the elderly little opportunity to exercise, which can have a harmful effect on their health. AAR JAPAN has begun sending a team of experts in occupational therapy and physiotherapy to visit evacuation centers on the Oshika Peninsula, part of Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, to provide rehabilitation and advice on how to make the living environment better suited to long-term physical fitness. On July 9th, a team of six, including nurses, occupational therapists and social workers, visited two evacuation centers and four homes on the Oshika Peninsula.

Exercises and Living Environments Suited to Each Person

A woman in her 80s has been staying at an evacuation center with her husband. She suffers from osteoarthritis, and as her knees hurt bitterly when she moves, she hasn’t been able to move around. Mr. Kiyoshi ISHII, an occupational therapist, gave her a careful massage to mitigate the pain in her knees. The woman slept on a bed at home, but uses a futon at the evacuation center, which causes further strain on her knees when getting up. We advised her to use a shower chair found in the evacuation center as an assistive device to allow her to stand up and sit down more easily.

Japanese-style squat toilets are also difficult for the elderly to use. At this evacuation center, only the men’s lavatory has a western-style toilet, so the woman has had no choice but to use the men’s lavatory. We recommended that the evacuation center bring in western-style sitting toilets that can be placed over the Japanese-style toilets.

At another evacuation center, a woman with intellectual disabilities in her 70s walks with the heels of her shoes folded over because they have become too small for her swollen feet. Although she can walk, with her bent back and weakened muscles she is at risk of falling at every step. We taught her a rehabilitation exercise using a walking frame found in the evacuation center, and recommended shoes and a walking frame suitable to her. We advised her to walk with them in the evacuation center regularly.

The elderly need daily exercise to prevent their bodies from weakening as a result of prolonged evacuee life. It is essential not only to offer temporary solutions such as massages and strength training, but also to teach routines they can undertake in their daily lives, and to offer suggestions for improving their regular living environments.

AAR JAPAN will continue our support for survivors as their environments change, whether in their homes, in evacuation centers, or in temporary housing.

Rehabilitation exercises
Rehabilitation exercises

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Project Leader

Yuko Ito

Program Coordinator
Kamiosaki, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo Japan

Where is this project located?

Map of Building Healthy Communities for Recovery