NAGOYA – A 65-year-old woman was arrested earlier this week over the strangling of her long-bedridden brother, and people familiar with the case say the incident stems from a chronic shortage in nursing-care facilities for patients in need of a short-term stay.
Katsuko Ichii was arrested on suspicion that she strangled her 69-year-old brother, Sadao, with a cord in the early hours of Tuesday at the home they shared in Nagoya’s Nakamura Ward.
Ichii called the ward office to say she had killed her brother, and a ward official who rushed to the house found him dead on a futon, according to local police.
“I killed my brother because I had grown tired of caring for him,” police officials quoted Ichii as saying following her arrest.
It was later learned that she had been caring for her brother for at least 24 years at home. In 1992, she was officially commended by the Aichi Prefectural Government for her “dedicated care” for her brother.
They had lived alone in the house since 1979, and Sadao, who had serious physical disabilities, was bedridden most of the time, according to ward officials.
As his condition gradually worsened, the brother required care on a 24-hour basis, and a care assistant was dispatched to the house three times a week during the daytime, the officials said.
In mid-February, Katsuko Ichii and her sister visited the ward office. Ichii reportedly said she was scheduled to be hospitalized in mid-March for an operation, and asked for advice on how her brother could be cared for during her absence.
Although ward officials gave her information on welfare facilities that could accommodate the brother for a short-term stay, none of the facilities met her conditions, according to the officials.
Currently, there are about 90 welfare facilities in Nagoya that can accommodate patients requiring nursing care for a short-term stay.
However, it is often difficult to accept patients on short notice, a care manager at one of the facilities said.
“(Ichii) was really devoted to caring for her brother. Even with the help of care assistants, I am afraid the burden on her was too much,” said a 75-year-old woman who lives nearby.
According to the neighbor, Ichii came to her house Tuesday in tears and confessed that she had killed her brother. Ichii then contacted the Nakamura Ward Office.
Shunichi Akahoshi, a professor at Nihon Fukushi University and an expert on the issue of welfare for elderly people, warned that such incidents may happen again unless the nursing-care insurance system is reformed to meet the needs of people facing similar troubles.
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