Sat, Jun 04, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Visits to doctor are unsettling for most solo seniors: survey

Staff Writer, with CNA

The majority of the nation’s senior citizens living on their own are uneasy about visiting doctors and find trips to hospitals unsafe and inconvenient, the results of a poll released yesterday showed.

The survey, conducted by the Taipei-based Huashan Social Welfare Foundation, found that more than half of the respondents said they were uncomfortable and sometimes even terrified during visits to the doctor.

In addition, more than 43 percent said they found it difficult to understand what their doctors were saying or trying to explain to them.

“As senior citizens become older, they face more health problems, which means that seeing a doctor becomes an essential part of their lives,” said Hsieh Hsiao-chi (謝小琪), head of the foundation’s public relations department.

Hsieh said a trip to the hospital can be more arduous for seniors who live alone.

It is “not safe or convenient [for them],” Hsieh said, adding that her foundation provides free shuttle bus and companion services for those who need them.

According to the survey, less than 40 percent of seniors who live alone take public transportation to the nearest hospital. Most walk, cycle or ride a scooter, the poll showed.

Among those who use public transport, 35 percent said they sometimes or often have the experience of not being offered a seat.

However, an octogenarian surnamed Fu (富) said at the press conference that “social values nowadays are improving.”

Fu said he usually uses the bus to travel and has found that people are more willing to yield their seats to him now than they were two to three years ago.

However, although the situation has gotten better, there is still room for improvement, the foundation said.

“Not just priority seats” on public transportation should be given to the elderly, Hsieh said. “Every seat should be a priority seat.”

The foundation encouraged more businesses to donate shuttle buses to help people with special needs. It also suggested that members of the public should volunteer for a few hours to accompany elderly people during visits to the doctor.

The survey was conducted nationwide during March and April, and surveyed 845 citizens over the age of 65.

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