The term is “ROUGAI,” a Japanese word that means “problems caused by the elderly” — in particular, elderly people’s control over the young.

By Steve Moran

The term is “ROUGAI,” a Japanese word that means “problems caused by the elderly” — in particular, elderly people’s control over the young. The concept got legs with the posting of a viral video (in Japan) of an old person repeatedly — and apparently deliberately and maliciously — keeping the subway door from closing 9 times.

The original video was posted on Twitter but when it went viral, the “post-er” pulled it down. It generated huge numbers of negative responses and the video became the talk of television and radio shows in Japan.

Japan Is Not North America

Today, Japan is much further down the road of older citizens being a significant drain on society, from the cost of healthcare and housing to the lack of caregivers. But that is not the big resentment . . . rather it is that the older people are controlling the lives of everyone — in particular the young — and they don’t like it very much.

Will This Come to Bite Us?

Something is going to happen, we as an industry or some outsiders will figure out how to do senior living/senior care and reduce healthcare costs to a reasonable level or we could see something like this happen in North America.

So far, young people and middle-aged people have largely been isolated from the impact of the aging population, but in 8-15 years it will have a huge impact on everyone. Healthcare costs will explode, there will not be enough caregiver resources. In case you are a skeptic, it was not that long ago that FreddieMac suggested today’s housing shortages could in part be blamed on older people who are living too long in their own homes.

Why It Could Be Different

It is easy to see the ageism that exists in senior living and society in general. There seems to be a serious amount of interest on the part of younger people in connecting with older people. This and the amazing capacity of Americans and Canadians to reinvent and solve seemingly intractable problems is likely to keep “ROUGAI” at a minimum here. But then again, when people feel like their options are severely restricted by someone else anything can happen.

Your thoughts?