Japanese elders hit hardest by tsunami

March 20th, 2011 - 4:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 20 (IANS) Japan’s elderly population has been the hardest hit after the catastrophic earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit the country March 11, a group dealing with the study of aging has said.

“Japan’s population - with the highest proportion of older people in any country - gives us an indicator of where the world as a whole is headed,” said James Appleby, executive director of the Gerontological Society of America.

Gerontology is the study of the social, psychological and biological aspects of aging.

“The significance of this demographic shift and the severity of the tsunami’s effects are highlighted by the numerous reports showing that seniors suffer disproportionately during natural disasters,” Appleby said.

For example, the May 12, 2008, earthquake in Wenchuan, China, was associated with a two-fold increase in one-year mortality among a group of nonagenarians that lived nearby, the Journal of Gerontology reported.

The spring 2006 edition of Public Policy and Aging Report said
three-quarters of those who perished in Hurricane Katrina were over the age of 60. Approximately 23 percent of Japanese citizens are aged 65 years and above.

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