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Senior citizens to be honored on Monday

Date Posted: 2004-09-16

Monday’s a national holiday, as citizens pay homage to its senior citizens.

Officially known as the Day to Respect the Aged, the day recognizes the accomplishments and achievements of its older persons.

The catch in Okinawa is that although the day is reserved to senior citizens, there’s a question as to the age when people can be called seniors. It is somewhat in dispute, as most municipalities consider 79 to be the right age, while others define senior citizens as a younger 73.

With people staying in better health longer, many older folks themselves take offense at being called seniors. Many local men are absolutely delighted when called “Young gentlemen!”

The number of Okinawan people living to 100 and over is increasing every year. On average, Okinawan women have had the longest life spans in the world for years. Okinawa Prefecture officials say there are currently 788 persons 100 years of age or older in Okinawa, with 262 persons reaching the milestone this year; 223 women and 39 men.

The oldest woman in the prefecture is 112 years old Kame Higa who lives in Naha City. The oldest man is Asatomo Fukuhara who checks in at 108. He also is from Naha City.

Okinawa Prefecture health officials say they’ve interviewed every person who is 100 or older. Their survey concludes that slightly over 18 percent of them say that they are in good health, while 40.5 percent said that they do not suffer any serious ailments.

When asked about their living habits, most stressed that it is important to stay active. Many municipalities have organized volunteer groups to help their seniors to stay busy with activities such as singing, dancing, cooking lessons and theater visits. They also organize regular health checks where volunteer health caregivers monitor seniors’ blood pressure, advise on rehabilitation when necessary and lecture about healthy eating habits.

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