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Let’s Hand Over One Sash with Dementia, Run Tomo [Aging Happily]


As an aging society is progressing in the world, we will have more elderly in our community. However, the circumstances surrounding such aging communities are not always simple to address and there are often restrictions on what can be done.
This series, Aging Happily will give you some ideas on how to integrate graceful aging into the local community and help elderly people live their golden years in happiness!

What do you imagine when you hear the word “dementia”? It might be difficult for many people to think that they will develop dementia in the future. However, the truth is, 15% of elderly over 65 have dementia.
Since an aging society is progressing, don’t you think now is the time that we consider dementia a problem worth addressing?.
Nonprofit organization Dementia Friendship Club holds an annual event called “Run Tomo,” which means “run together.” The event is a long distance relay for people with dementia, their families, supporters, and local advocates for the cause.

Easily take part in and fulfill yourself

The purpose of Run Tomo at Dementia Friendship Club is to have events that everyone including a person with dementia can participate in and gain satisfaction and accomplishments.
Run Tomo is an anything-goes relay. You can run with a wheelchair, you can run short distance, or if you like, you can do long distance. One sash is handed over one by one, and at last the sash reaches the finish line.
To great surprise, they ran 300 kilometers from Hakodate to Sapporo with 171 participants at the very first Run Tomo event.

Raise awareness for dementia

We had an interview with Takehito Tokuda, the director of Dementia Friendship Club.

I had an opportunity to interview a person who has dementia. I realized there was a huge gap between what I thought about dementia and the reality.
My impression of what it is like to live with the disease was that it’s tough, but the truth is that there are things that we can easily do to help anyone with the condition.
For example, often someone’s overall health is in good condition, but once they leave the house they become worried that they won’t find their way home. These concerns can be solved with a little help from community members who are aware of their condition.

“Run Tomo” brings changes not only to people with dementia but also their families and local communities.

Once a person is in need of care it becomes harder to take on certain challenges. In general, we are lively if we have certain goals.
All participants could feel satisfaction. After completing Run Tomo their faces were beaming like we had never seen before. Their families and supporters were impressed that they enjoyed it so much.

How about local community?

All members of “Run Tomo” wear the same orange T-shirts. This atmosphere naturally makes a stronger connection between elderly with dementia and local participants.

The second Run Tomo event involved much more people like university students, boys club teams, and even the city mayor.
In your country, what kind of projects are there help people with dementia live comfortably? Any ideas? If you don’t have any answers, let’s run together.
[via written by Eriko Morichika]
[English Text by Mao Ono]
[Editor: Mike Cutno, Kana Tateyama, and Kota Suzuki]


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