14:35 22 February 2017
FEATURE: Japanese firms offering health-care service to elderly Japanese in Thailand
By Anna Masui
TOKYO, Feb. 22, Kyodo
Japanese companies are offering nursing-care and health-care goods and services in Chiang Mai for elderly people from Japan spending their post-retirement life in the northern Thai city.
Friend Co., an operator of group homes for the aged in Oyama, Tochigi Prefecture near Tokyo, operates two stores in Chiang Mai to sell or lease walking sticks, chairs, beds and other nursing-care goods.
Friend began the business in 2015 after Keisuke Yamaguchi, chairman of the company, found a large presence of elderly Japanese in Chiang Mai through local volunteer activities he had started earlier.
"We first sought to create an extensive lineup of nursing-care goods for home use and set up places of consultations" for Japanese elderly in need of advice, Yamaguchi said.
According to the Japanese consulate general in the city, there are about 3,100 Japanese on extended stays in northern Thailand, half of whom are 60 and older.
Friend is now making preparations to open a welfare facility for Japanese retirees in Chiang Mai in 2017. The home is intended to serve the needs of Japanese with dementia and those who cannot return to Japan for one reason or another, said Kazumi Mochizuki, who is in charge of Friend's overseas operations.
Green Life Support Co., a Chiang Mai-based visa support company, has tied up with a Japanese IT firm to offer a health-care service for Japanese elderly using a smartphone app.
Under the service that began in July 2016, its members send their medical data, such as weight and blood pressure, to Green Life every day and can receive advice if necessary. If any of the users fails to send data for three straight days, they are contacted by a company official.
The service also includes the installation of small sensors to detect human movements in clients' homes so as to prevent lonely death.
Sayoko Toida, 70, who uses the service, said, "As I have recently developed bronchitis, it (the service) gives me a sense of safety when I am left alone in Thailand during my husband's trips to Japan."
The Tokyo-based Asian Medicare Exchange Foundation Association has embarked on a project to build a remote medical support system for Japanese living in Asian countries.
The project is intended to enable Japanese living in Asian countries to directly contact medical institutions in Japan to get advice on their health, said Akira Mizoo, a medical doctor who is an executive of the association.
Friend, meanwhile, is seeking to expand their products and services to cater to local wealthy people in Southeast Asia where the population is aging. The company is also considering developing services that enable Japanese in the region to check the safety of their aged parents in Japan.