How Exoskeletons Are Helping an Aging Workforce in Japan

Find out what "mechanical exoskeletons" are and how they help Japan's aging workforce. Plus, what can help local seniors stay on the job.

Elderly man in construction hat in factory

Japan has the world’s oldest population, including more than 35.88 million citizens age 65 and older. With people living longer, many are also working longer – well into their 70s, in some cases – and now a new report sheds light on how it’s becoming easier for seniors to do just that.

Robot exoskeletons, or mechanical exoskeletons, are becoming more common in Japan, a recent article by the Daily Mail reports.

The devices, which cost about £1,000, can make a physically demanding job a bit more manageable. Worn on the back like a backpack, the exoskeletons “act as amplifiers that augment, reinforce or restore human performance,” the article notes. Some are made of rigid materials like metal, while others are made from soft or elastic parts.

“We have no option – elderly people need to stay at the workplace,” Daigo Orihara, a spokesperson at the exoskeleton firm Innophys, told another publication, New Scientist, this month.

How to help working seniors in Michigan

More people in the U.S. are working past retirement age, too. Continuing to work into your senior years can be a challenge for some people, but there are also many potential benefits of working past retirement age. Those in the “sandwich generation” – trying to raise young children while also caring for aging parents – may have concerns about their parents working past retirement-age, though.

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While a mechanical exoskeleton won’t be necessary for most, staying up to date on technology is one way that seniors can keep current with the modern workplace. Consider these tech ideas for aging parents, or other senior citizens, who want to keep working or return to the workforce.

  1. Smartphones are one of several “essential tech tools for older adults,” according to U.S. News & World Report. The 2015 report also notes that more than 78% of Americans over age 65 have a cell phone, but only 30% have smartphones.
  2. GPS devices or apps, which vary widely in price, can help seniors make it to work and other destinations. Plus, devices that track your own location can help adult children know where Mom or Dad is at all times.
  3. Smartwatches and fitness trackers could be a way to keep seniors moving if they have a sedentary workplace. Most devices will track your activity and let you know how you’re doing throughout the day.

Would you be willing to work past retirement age? Tell us in the comments.