June 6, 2011

THAILAND: Elderly folk 'overlooked'

BANGKOK, Thailand / The Bangkok Post / News / Politics / June 6, 2011

Senior doctors who represent authorities for the elderly have reminded parties to take good care of the country's senior citizens, as they represent about 20% of the electorate.

Dr Banlu Siripanich, chairman of the Foundation of Thai Gerontology Research and Development, said only a few parties had stated policies catering for the elderly, and those policies which had been offered were not comprehensive.

He suggested parties present policies to provide senior citizens with vocational training and activities, develop an environment that is friendly and accessible to older people, ensure long-term health care and welfare for them and guarantee incomes for elderly people with little or no means to generate income of their own.

Dr Suthichai Jitapunkul of the Older Persons Commission said although some parties had policies for older people, their policies were unclear when compared with other platforms. Parties might not realise the importance of senior citizens despite the fact that the elderly accounts for 20%, or nearly one-fifth, of eligible voters, and that they were highly interested in politics.

Elderly people who might benefit from welfare policies could influence the votes of younger family members, Dr Suthichai said.

He urged parties to issue policies to encourage and enable families to take care of their older and dependent relatives, provide the elderly with fair pensions, educate older persons and assign local administrative organisations to take care of senior citizens.

He disagrees with a policy to develop retirement homes. He said elderly people who had families should live with their relatives rather than enter retirement homes.

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