As Japan’s population becomes grayer, one issue society must address is how to decrease the reliance on the use of diapers. It is an issue that concerns people’s quality of life as well as nursing care costs. Many elderly people may not have been given proper care and treatment, resulting in unnecessary use of diapers.

As one gets older, one tends to go to the toilet more frequently at night. It may become difficult to manage one’s urination. Improved diapers are on the market and development of a new product — a diaper containing a sensor that activates a pump when the user starts urinating — is also reported. But one naturally wishes to be able to live without diapers.

It is reported that of the 28 million people aged 60 or over, about 4 million are suffering from involuntary urination and about 2 million use diapers. Experts point out a problem — that many people, including doctors, nursing care workers and elderly people themselves think that involuntary urination is unavoidable among aged people. In many cases, elderly people are subjected to improper urination management. Expert knowledge and skills are needed for proper urination management.

It should be remembered that if one receives proper care or treatment, one’s urinary disturbance may lessen or disappear. It is helpful if one sees a urologist. According to a society of urologists specializing in treatment of elderly patients, only 10 percent of the elderly people see urologists.

The same organization carried out experiments in five places including Koriyma, Fukushima Prefecture, and Kochi, in 2003, mobilizing urologists and other medical workers. Urinary disturbances, including involuntary urination, lessened in 60 percent of the cases and the number of diapers used decreased by 36 percent.

These experiments and other attempts in other areas show that cooperation between urologists and nursing care workers to give proper treatment, care and instructions to elderly people can decrease reliance on diapers. Society should realize that being able to live without relying on diapers is an important human right.

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