(Professor of Geriatric Medicine, Kyorin University School of Medicine）
I would like to express my ideas as the new President of the Japan Geriatrics Society.
After joining the Department of Geriatrics of the University of Tokyo, School of Medicine in 1988, I have been engaged in practice, research, and education of geriatric medicine. I have experienced a lot of things as the Vice President under the previous President, Masahiro Akishita. Soon after he started his career as the President, the global COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, when all activities, both social and economic, were extremely restricted. People had to stay indoors, being suppressed both physically and mentally for a long time from fear of being infected with vicious virus. Among all, most affected was older adults, who were depressed, cognitively declined, and physically unfit. This means that older adults were very sensitive and became frail as a result of long self-restraint from COVID-19 pandemic. The problem is it is not easy to restore their functionality. In view of geriatric medicine, illness is not only the problem, physical, mental, and cognitive declines are rather more important.
It is true that many doctors of specialists see older adults, but they usually see specific disease, they don’t usually see all diseases or they don’t see through the life of older adults. Concerning this point, you can refer to “What is a geriatrician?” in our home page, and in the Part of Yomiuri Shimbun ”Immediate establishment of geriatrics for healthy longevity”. Very important role of geriatricians is to see older adults as a person, see not only the disease but see patients through their life, and provide medical care and their life. As mentioned above, I believe that it is the mission of our society to show the specialties of geriatricians to medical staffs and even general populations as well as all doctors.
Geriatrics is also characterized by its commitment to the society. As shown on our website ”Recommendations and Opinions”, we have stated various opinions and proposals to society, such as "Recommendations for Online Medical Treatment for the Elderly,” "Recommendations for Society Members to Support older people, including Those with Dementia, and their Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” "Recommendations for ACP,” "Proposals for the New Concept of older individuals,” "Proposals and Opinions on the End of Life,” "Proposals for the Enforcement of the Road Traffic Act for older adults,” "Statement on Frailty,” etc. It is of note that "the Basic Act on Dementia to the Realization of an Inclusive Society” has been passed in Japan’s Diet in June 2023, and much of our opinions from our Society were reflected on it. This is a good evidence showing that our academic society contributed to the law passage. We will continue this kind of significant activities, contribution to the public, hereafter.
Furthermore, since 2018, we formulated a “Five-Year Plan for Promoting Geriatric Medicine to the Achieving of Healthy Longevity”, and have carried out various activities along the plan. Among the five big issues in the Plan, we have made achievements in “measures against frailty”, “promotion of social measures against dementia”, and “the new concept of older individuals”, meaning that we have indeed made results according to the Five-Year Plan. 2023 is the year to formulate a new five-year plan. You will understand the contents of our society's future activities when you look at this plan. Be anticipated. Based on the 2018 version, the new 5-year plan aims to develop “scientific care”, “prevention of frailty”, “making action plans based on the Basic Act on Dementia”, and “the develop of social integration of gerontechnology such as ICT, IoT, robot technology, and AI”.
Since COVID-19 has been downgraded to Level 5, it is getting easier to do various society activities. With the help of Dr. Katsuya Iijima (Institute of Gerontology, The University of Tokyo) and Dr. Mitsuru Oishi (Department of Cardiovascular Medicine and Hypertensive, Kagoshima University), who are the vice presidents, we would like to carry out our academic activities enthusiastically.