October 1st 2018
The economy ministry has decided to test the efficacy of products and services that claim to prevent dementia, ministry officials said.
There are many such offerings, including drills that let users solve calculation problems on a touchscreen, but the actual effects of such products and services are not clear. The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry intends to launch a verification project to investigate how much benefit they provide, the officials said.
The ministry also aims to foster dementia prevention as a growing industry in Japan’s rapidly aging society.
The project will be carried out for three years from fiscal 2019. The ministry will work with businesses that offer dementia prevention products and services, and with local governments whose officials are directly involved in nursing care services, to verify how effective products and services are in maintaining and improving people’s cognitive functions.
Authorities hope the project will lead to the development of new products and services, and promote their use.
A number of products and services are said to be effective for dementia prevention. For example, in addition to calculation workbooks and puzzles, there are devices that require the movement of the fingers. Certain meals are also touted as effective in this area.
However, no official verification is provided for most of these products and services.
The ministry will pick about 12 products and services for the project, and provide subsidies to the businesses offering them through the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development. The agency is under the supervision of such ministries as the economy ministry and the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.
The economy ministry has earmarked about ¥1.2 billion ($10.5 million) for the project in its fiscal 2019 budgetary request. The project will also cover products and services to support the daily lives of people who have developed dementia.
The ministry will decide details on how the project will be carried out and how the results will be announced, taking into account the opinions of businesses that offer such products and services, as well as those offering nursing care services.
The health ministry estimates the number of elderly dementia patients will increase to 7.3 million in 2025, compared to 5.25 million in 2015.
The economy ministry believes the development and improvement of products and services that help prevent dementia will help reduce the number of elderly people who need nursing care.