PETALING JAYA — The government’s decision not to build new welfare homes for the aged is seen as a harsh move that could leave many elderly folk in the lurch.
St Mary Nursing Home founder Sonia Jagjit said there were many elderly people in dire need of a place to live.
“Not many people can afford private homes. This decision should have been thought through as many old people will eventually suffer because of it,” she said
“The minimal amount for a basic room inclusive of food, and laundry in a private nursing home it about RM1,500 and it can increase to RM3,000.”
Sonia said there would be an increase in homeless elderly people as they would have to find other ways to survive if they were unable to live with their children.
“Some elderly people who cannot live in welfare homes would have no choice but to live by the roadside,” she said.
Hati.my team head Susan Tam criticised the government’s decision, saying the authorities were duty-bound to provide welfare or care, especially for the poor.
“Living costs are on the rise, can we seriously expect poor families to be able to look after their elderly relatives properly if they are financially unstable?” she asked.
Tam was concerned the decision to stop building homes for the aged could lead to more abandoned elderly people at public hospitals, further straining them in already uncertain economic times.
“From my past experience, old folk get dumped at Kuala Lumpur Hospital or Seremban Hospital regularly,” she said.
“If we are to be a developed nation by 2025, public servants and publicly-elected leaders must be held accountable for governance, including looking after the elderly.”
GT Community Care executive director Roy Tan said it was a wise move as it would make people more responsible towards their elderly.
“However, the elderly in genuine need of placement in welfare homes must be given consideration, otherwise more will be abandoned. As I see it, there is no blanket answer to solving this problem,” he said.
“Whatever the case, the people need to be educated on the responsibility of caring for the elderly. Similarly, the authorities have to diligently assess those who need genuine placement in welfare homes,” he said.
Goldenage Welfare Association Malaysia (Usiamas) president Datuk Abdullah Malim Baginda agreed with the move, saying it would enable the ministry to prioritise its resources on other social issues.
“This move will also empower third-party NGOs who can operate welfare homes for the aged. Simply because a home is operated by the government and its agencies does not make it all the better. So I am pleased they have finally begun to look into this issue,” he said.
Abdullah’s primary concern was to ensure the NGOs were capable and possess the expertise to operate welfare homes, and, when necessary, provided funding as well.
“We also need to know why people send their relatives, especially their partents, to welfare homes. I do not believe it is due to a lack of love,” he said
“It could be the inability to fully comprehend the problems faced by senior citizens, or maybe there is not enough space at home and financial resources to accommodate them over their own young families.”
According to the Department of Statistics, there are about six million Malaysians aged 65 years and above in 2016, an increase of 0.2 per cent from last year.