Reviewed by Rika Kinugawa, Feb 7, 2021.

“Because I don’t have a family, basically I’ve been living all by myself,” says Chizuko Ueno in the afterword of her latest book, RECOMMENDING DYING HOME ALONE (在宅ひとり死のススメ). “I am now 72 years old. Going downhill in my life. One day I will be found dead at home, perhaps after getting certified for long-term care, after spending some quiet and lonely days. I don’t want that to be called a “lonely death,” and that was my motivation for writing this book that proposes a way to meet a happy end at our own familiar place.

Ueno introduces the front-line nursing care and end-of-life care, which she covered while traveling around Japan. The field of nursing care, which enables our “dying alone at home,” has evolved beyond our expectations with accumulated experiences and skills. She also introduces a charismatic home doctor who says, “I’ve taken care of numbers of people who wanted to die at home.” As the editor of this book, I also had opportunities to meet with some of those working in nursing care and end-of-life care. I cannot help but be impressed by the diligence and sincerity of such people. As pointed out in David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs, essential workers’ wages are still quite low. Ueno argues how we should raise their wages, commensurate with the noble work they do, and describes her ideas.

Ueno clearly responds to an issue, which often tends to lead to intergenerational conflicts. The nation can no longer bear the increasing burden of social security costs for the baby boomers. According to Ueno, the cost for hospitals and facilities can be reduced by making “dying alone at home” another option. As a consequence, it also contributes to reducing social security costs. This can be a good solution for seniors, for younger generations, and also for the government.

I hope this book will introduce ideas about nursing care and end-of-life care for seniors and those who will be providing care.

Translated by Mario Tauchi: Mario Tauchi is an artist and a writer/translator based in Tokyo.

The original article in Japanese: 上野千鶴子・著『在宅ひとり死のススメ』 さよなら「孤独死」、時代は「しあわせな在宅ひとり死」へ◆衣川理花