The Mission Continues

The name “Keiro” – respect for the elderly – symbolizes the organization’s founding commitment to supporting seniors in the Japanese American community live with the dignity and compassion which they surely deserved.  And as long as there are seniors in the Japanese American and Japanese community who require a culturally sensitive approach to support, Keiro’s commitment to enhancing the quality of their lives will continue.

With seniors’ increasing desire to age in place at home, with payers’ decreasing utilization of facility-based care, and with more acculturation, it would have been easy to declare, “Mission accomplished.”

Yet, Keiro realized that support for seniors may be even more critical now than in 1960, when Keiro was founded.

Society is getting older.

In 1960, when Keiro was being planned, 9% of the U.S. population was 65 years and older; by 2010, it was 13%, and the 2030 projection – just 14 years from now – is 20%!  Not only has the percentage of the older adult population increased, the numbers have, as well – 16,500,000 in 1960 to 40,268,000 in 2010 to a projected 72,774,000 by 2030.

In addition, 97% of the people age 65 or older are aging at home rather than in a nursing facility.  Our Japanese American and Japanese community is also getting older, we are living longer, we are choosing to live at home as long as possible, and knowing this, it is obvious that Keiro’s mission must continue.

In this commitment to mission, the “community” is defined as Japanese American and Japanese older adults and their families, caregivers, and the community organizations that support them.  Moving from facility based services where Keiro could serve up to 600 people at any time, we know that there are approximately 70,000 Japanese American and Japanese seniors who have or will have needs in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties.  For each senior who needs support, there are many more family and informal caregivers.

There is much work to be done before anyone can say “Mission accomplished.”