The Nation

Govt must face up to coming society of elders

Thailand is becoming a society of the elderly - their numbers will increase to 20 million in the next 40 years - and academics have called on political parties to issue elderly-friendly policies for the coming election to improve their quality of life.

To date, only 12 of 40 political parties have issued policies for the elderly, and they focus mainly on monthly allowances that will be provided for them."Elderly people need economic and social security not just money," College of Population Studies ' dean, Associate Professor Viphan Prachubmoh said.Speaking at a seminar on the "difficulties of social welfare policies for elderly people" - organised by Thai Universities for Healthy Public Policy - she said political parties should come up with concrete policies to deal with the coming challenges of an ageing population in coming decades. Social welfare and health issues for elderly people must be established as a national agenda - such as the HIV/Aids issue - which every government needs to implement, she added. Political parties must issue policies to support elderly people not able to take care of themselves. Also needed is a longterm care policy for the elderly, especially those over 80 years. As elderly people are the most at risk of getting into poverty during a recession, political parties should issue policies to implement the pension fund, encouraging elderly to save money for their comfortable retirement. At present, Thailand has seven million elderly people but only 15 percent have saved money for retirement and some 30 percent have no insurance. " Thailand still does not prepare itself for the coming ageing society, especially tax structural adjustment and social welfare funding, to look after elderly people in future," she said. Sakon Waranyuwattana, an economics lecturer at Thammasat University, said local authority organisations should play a major role in providing public services that are friendly for elderly people.To date, he said, such organisations still do not give their priorities to elderly friendly policies."It would be better if local authority organisations could invest a lot [more] budget to improve quality of life of elderly people instead of building infrastructure," he said. "But now governments and local authorities are still throwing stuff over the fence at each other," he added.


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