Professional Women and Elder Care in Contemporary Japan: Anxiety and the Move Toward Technocare
Keywords:Hyperaging, Japan, Lifecourse, Robotic Care, Social Robots
The elder population in Japan is increasing drastically, causing a number of issues that have not yet surfaced in most Western countries. Demographic data from Japan reveal that the Japanese have the longest lifespan globally, resulting in the world’s highest population of older adults. Concurrently, the country has a rapidly declining birth rate. As the population ages, the workforce is shrinking and leaving a high number of elders with fewer caregivers to meet their needs. At present, the Japanese government is developing robotic care solutions to overcome the elder care labor shortage and implementing a new agenda to introduce social robots into the field. This article discusses professional women in Japan and their burden of caring for aging relatives and how introducing robotic care devices might reduce current anxieties regarding the provision of elder care. It analyzes the elder care strategies of 12 white-collar professional women in their forties and fifties and examines the extent to which gendered, expected at-home caregiving affects their professional commitments and associated anxieties. The findings below provide crucial insight into the most effective strategies that can be used by Japanese women to balance their careers with responsibilities to care for older relatives, particularly when it is impossible to predict the intensity of caregiving in the future.
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