Do you have good teeth? The dentists here are advocating, `80-20' action. They are saying we should leave 20 teeth when we become 80 years old. In order to do so, we should take care of our teeth, by everyday brushing and checking at dentists.
My father who is 83 years old has no false teeth but still I sometimes become so worried and watch him not to choke(he eats so fast!).
In Japan, 25% of the whole population is more than 65 years old and the number is increasing-in near future, it will be 30 percent, which means one out of three people is over 65 years old. It is unknown world, nobody has experienced such society before.
My father goes to Day care center, four times a week, they have programs such as exercise, games, music(very often volunteer music groups come and play), sometimes kids from neghbor elementary school visit the center. The lunch and refreshment served there are made by staff there, so they can eat thigns fresh from the oven.
The food served for older/handicapped people are called Kaigoshoku(kaigo means `care' and shoku means `food'). Kaigosyoku industry is now getting a lot of attention and I was so surprised to see their invention.
A feeding company in Yamagata prefecture made innovative Kaigoshoku. Because of a fear of aspiration, for older people with weak biting strength, brayed soft food are usually offered. Nutritionists try very hard to make variety of food using potato starch or ager to make the food smooth for eating.
This company believes food must look attractive and beautiful-so they made Kaigoshoku which has no difference with the ordinary food by the look.
For example, one of the typical fish dish called `saba no misoni'(mackerel simmered in miso), they grinded mackerel and put the fish meat in a mold. It can even make fish scale too! Then they print the outside skin of fish using edible ink. By the look, nobody can know this is Kaigoshoku. The fish is so soft and it can be chewed even with no teeth. That is what the company aimed. They say people do not want to be known that they are eating someting special. Also when you eat food, the look is so important. The look can stimulate the apetite and also the satisfaction- and of course give the joy of eating.
Please see the process of this dish:
They made Osechi ryori(Traditional New Year dish) which can be eaten easily by people with mastication problem.
There are other companies also making innovative kaigoshoku- using high pressure, enzyme and so on to make food softer and easier to eat keeping the appearance attractive. Their innovation in technology is having drastic advance. People are realizing the world with so many older people around is coming soon and this is our own issue. One of the caregiver I know said she is planning to build another senior people's home-trying to make the place she herself feels like to stay. I think the industry related to older people will make a big growth-I hope this can make the better society for older people (including us) and give good effect to our economy. When you get old, it will be hard to let others know what you want, so I hope there will be a lot of choice for older people(I know making a choice becomes difficult too, when you become old though). It used to be kaigoshoku business was a niche business but it will be a big industry for quite much part of population.