The Guardian

'Dementia towns': how Japan is evolving for its ageing population

With one in five elderly Japanese predicted to have dementia by 2025, entire communities are working to improve the lives of older citizens
Welfare officials Manami Yoshii and Yoko Kobayashi on patrol in Matsudo, Japan. Photograph: Justin McCurry for the Guardian

It took a round of golf to convince Masashi Tsuda that something was really wrong with his memory. Then in his mid-50s, the sales rep couldn’t remember the four-digit number for his changing-room locker. Months earlier, he had struggled to get to grips with his office’s new computer system. On another occasion, his mind went blank as he was about to give a work presentation.

Despite twice being reassured by doctors that stress was the cause of his moments of absent-mindedness, Tsuda was eventually diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease five years ago.

His wife, Kazuko, wipes away tears as she recalls the ensuing trauma. “We had just

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