Must Growing Old Mean Growing Lonely? Reflections from Japan

Photo by Hector García

This summer, Kim embarked on a trip to Okinawa, Japan – one of the world’s five blue zones, home to the world’s healthiest and longest living people. Within Okinawa, she travelled to Ōgimi village, where residents have opportunities for healthy eating, exercise and cultivating meaningful relationships. The community is guided by a shared set of principles that reinforce respect, recognition and reciprocity.

In her latest Medium piece, Kim contrasts the care and respect she saw for elders in Ōgimi with the relative lack thereof towards older persons elsewhere in the world. In an era where the proportion of older persons is growing across the world, it is critical that we invest our resources and time to recognize the value of every person at every stage of life. Japan as a whole has a long way to go, however there are many incredible initiatives she offers from her trip that show a pathway forward.