On September 14, Tokyo Diocese’s “21st Century Committee,” which addresses environmental, family, and other social issues, sponsored a symposium entitled “Senior Citizens and Dementia.” Fifty-five followers attended this symposium, which was held at the diocese administration office, to acquire helpful information for their salvation work.
In his opening speech, Tokyo Diocese Superintendent Harumitsu Nakadai said: “I feel that the problems confronting society have gotten worse since we entered the new century. I would like all of you here to understand the serious problems facing senior citizens, ponder over these issues in the light of the teachings, and use what you learn here today to enhance your salvation activities.”
Next, Mr. Yoshishige Hayashi, director of Hibiki-no-Sato Convalescent Home in Tenri City, presented his keynote speech. He introduced music therapy as well as other therapeutic methods used at his facility. He told the audience: “At our convalescent home, we are trying to create an environment that is as close as possible to our residents’ home environments. For example, we encourage them to bring familiar household items from their homes and to participate in simple aspects of meal preparations, such as washing rice and setting the table.” He added, “We encourage our residents to visit the supermarket and other places in our neighborhood where people tend to gather.”
A panel discussion was then held with the following panelists: Mr. Hayashi; 21st Century Committee Chairman Kenzo Tanaka; and Dr. Rashad Khaled, director of a healthcare corporation called Kenshi-kai, who formerly worked at Ikoi-no-Ie Hospital.
During the panel discussion, Mr. Hayashi said: “In most cases, dementia patients are unaware of their symptoms. People who care for them must fully understand this and care for them with this perspective in mind. Doing everything for them is not always the best treatment. Rather, we aim at providing the support they require in order to take care of themselves.”
When asked about the onset of dementia, Dr. Khaled introduced research findings that show retirement, which brings about sudden and dramatic environmental change, to be one of the major causes of dementia. He went on to say: “Tenrikyo’s teaching of hinokishin, which refers to selfless actions to help others, is truly remarkable. This idea needs to be more widely shared in preparation for the coming era when we will be faced with a higher ratio of senior citizens.” His remarks drew a loud round of applause from the audience.
Mr. Hirokimi Matsuda, Kyodo News editorial staff member, then delivered a talk in which he referred to “healing” in the religious and medical fields. He pointed out: “In the past, religion and medicine were inseparable. However, they are relative and, at times, opposite in the modern era.”
Mr. Matsuda concluded the four-hour symposium by saying: “I felt that today’s symposium offered many hints to help religions transform and revitalize themselves. I have heard that there have been on-going discussions in Tenrikyo concerning organ transplants. I have high regards for Tenrikyo as there have been few religious organizations that openly discuss such issues that challenge modern society.”