One of the social activities that I have engaged myself in these past two years is being part of a third-party committee that deals with incidents and complaints mainly from insured patients utilizing Long-term Care service in an Osaka’s municipality. It was so surprising for me to find out that, according to information from the committee, there are a lot more elderly people with minor disabilities compared to elderly people with severe disabilities and that there are much more incidents involving elderly people with minor disabilities than those involving elderly people with severe disabilities. This gave me the impression that there is an undeniable need for goods and services to assist and ensure the safety of elderly people with minor disabilities since their independence in their daily lives means that they are often surrounded by a high risk of accidents such as slipping or falling.
Experiences such as these remind me of my late grandmother. She was making frequent use of municipality-based day services for exercise and as a hobby when she started getting weaker. My mother, dedicating her life to caring for her, started buying various welfare equipment such as a cane, a pushcart for elderly, non-slip shoes and other items and even had a slope installed in the house in order for my grandmother to maintain her Quality of Life. It was through those experiences that I became aware of the wide varieties of welfare goods and equipment for seniors.
When it comes to businesses that cater to seniors, we could see several instances of market entry from different industries. For instance, facilities such as assisted living residential homes have started operations under for-profit firms such as “Panasonic”, an electronics firm, “SECOM”, a security firm, and “Daiwa House Industry”, a construction firm, among others. Goods such as adult diapers and other linen are being produced by “Nippon Paper Industries” and “Daio Paper Group” and other such companies. Business for Long-term Care is said to be worth around 12 trillion JPY (Mizuho Corporate Bank, 2012). The number of people aged over 65 has already reached beyond 28% of the total population and is now called as a part of “super aged society” (Census, 2018). Other developed countries are also following similar trends towards aging. It would be significant for for-profit companies to have a business model related to this issue on aging as mid/long-term strategy.