May 5, 2010

KOREA: Number of seniors living alone surges in Seoul

SEOUL, Korea / The Korea Herald /  National News / May 5, 2010

By Shin Hae-in

The number of elderly citizens living by themselves is continuing to climb in Seoul, with one in every five citizens aged 65 and older currently living alone without a spouse or children, a poll showed yesterday.

Among some 927,000 seniors in Seoul, about 203,000 currently live by themselves, showing an increase of nearly 63 percent from the number of single seniors four years ago, according to the survey of 25 autonomous districts in Seoul.

The overall number of senior citizens in the capital rose by 26.8 percent during the same period.

The poll indicates changing perceptions in this traditionally family-oriented Confucian country, according to which a growing number of senior citizens are shunning from living with their married children, largely for the sake of freedom.

Many senior citizens live alone in Korea for some reason or the other. File photo courtesy:

In a separate survey recently conducted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, only 27.9 percent of senior citizens said they wanted to live with their children, the rest said they preferred to live alone at a residence near their children or at elderly care centers.

Increased lifespans and improved health conditions will likely result in more senior citizens wanting to live alone, experts say.

“These polls show that the society has to work on strengthening the social security net and community services to support the increasing living-alone seniors,” said Kim Myeong-yong, head of the senior welfare bureau of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. “On top of health and financial issues, elderly citizens living lone will also have to deal with loneliness and security issues.” [rc]

Shin Hae-in

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