Twice a week, Yukie Ushijima visits a nursing home on the outskirts of Tokyo to meet her 80-year-old mother waiting on the other side of a clear plastic sheet.

Ushijima talks to her through the transparent curtain draped over the facility’s reception desk. Her mother smiles when asked about her day, sometimes with a puzzled expression — the octogenarian has advanced dementia and often can’t recognize her daughter.

“She must think I’m this nice woman who comes by often with gifts,” Ushijima says. “It’s sad, but it’s still an improvement. Until recently she was only allowed to greet me from the second floor landing and I could tell she was becoming increasingly unresponsive.”