Ibasho: Include and empower elders to reinvent our communities

Dr. Emi Kiyota

This session introduces the “Ibasho” approach that challenges prevalent perceptions about aging and the social role of elders. This approach derives from a meaning of Ibasho– a Japanese term meaning a place where one feels a sense of belonging and purpose, and is accepted as oneself. This Ibasho approach recognizes elders as valuable assets to their community, empowering them to be active participants and changing the harmful outcomes created by society’s negative perceptions and expectations – social isolation, a loss of dignity and respect, and a sense of uselessness and irrelevance. It also improves the community’s ability to withstand shocks caused by natural hazards by creating a strong informal support system in which elders are the catalyst to strengthen social capital among community members of all ages. With elders actively engaged, Ibasho project in Japan has been operational for five years and the space is building social capital and resilience, while at the same time changing people’s mind-sets about aging.

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