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I have noticed many elderly and physically disadvantaged (on wheelchair etc.) around the Lincoln Center where I stay in New York City. You see many young people around Columbia University and around New York University, but the Upper West side seems to have more baby boomers and up living there. It is in some contrast with the scene in Tokyo where you see reality of aging, but not very old people outside.

You also see many very elderly people and disadvantaged people at concert halls and at Broadway. I do not recall seeing many who walk with “walkers” or on wheelchair out and at cultural venues or sports facilities in Tokyo. Probably I notice the phenomenon more now, as my 92-year-old father who used to walk very fast has gone from cane to walker in 2 years and I have seen the process where walking increasingly becomes a challenge.

The reason I see many elderly in New York City may be because the city itself is designed to accommodate the people with physical difficulty. For example, the doors which tend to be heavy usually have buttons to open for those who have difficulty pushing.

I also think that there is practice in the society to respect independence and it is taken for granted that people with physical challenge are to be out and around. I feel that the people are willing to help and to support those, as well. (I was asked to help the elderly lady the other day as she had trouble stepping down the pavement.)

On the other hand, some of the theaters and other public places are old and have very steep stairs that even I find it hard to climb up. Elevators are available for the elderly and so are the seats for wheelchairs.  Probably they try to respect both tradition and the convenience.  More questions…

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