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How Japan is training an entire country to help with dementia

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Aeon is Japan’s version of Tesco, with more than 18,700 supermarkets and stores. Two years ago, when Aeon opened its flagship mall, some 1,000 employees showed up for the enthusiastic “opening ceremony.” The full-day event opened with an unusual lesson. “We learned how to react to people who might have dementia,” recalls Shoko Koizumi, a customer service manager. Since 2007, the Asian retail juggernaut has been training its 400,000 “Aeon people” in Japan to deal with dementia. The retailer is just one player in a vast and ever-growing network. Japan calls it the Dementia Supporter Caravan and it has 6.1 million members — an army scattered across the country ready and willing to support people whose fading cognitive abilities have left them struggling to support themselves. The goal of the Dementia Supporter Caravan is to rebuild society into one that understands the disease and helps.


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