Older people in long-term nursing care for dementia and other illnesses are increasingly getting involved in work at convenience stores and other businesses that are struggling to find staff due to Japan's acute labor shortage.

The feeling of purpose gained from their efforts encourages people to become self-reliant and gives a sense of satisfaction, according to an industry insider, who says the initiatives offer an opportunity to expand a framework that has proven mutually beneficial to social-welfare service providers as well as understaffed businesses.

"I enjoy coming here, and I am happy to see other people pleased," said Masako Kawashita, 80, who works at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture. Wearing a company uniform and black apron, she performs tasks such as sanitizing shopping baskets.